Basalt will seek increase in sales tax for parks, trails and open space
August 22, 2006
Basalt placed a second major tax question for residents on the November ballot Tuesday night.The Basalt Town Council voted 6-0 to seek voter approval for a 1 percent increase in the town’s sales tax. If the voters approve the question, the sales tax for the town would rise from 2 percent to 3 percent.In an unrelated question, the Basalt Regional Library District will seek voter approval for a property tax increase to build a new facility.The town government’s proposed sales tax increase would raise an additional $1 million annually for its coffers, based on tax collections in 2005. The revenues will increase as the town grows and more businesses open.The revenues would be restricted to use for parks, open space acquisition and trail projects, according to the ballot language.”It’s a pretty simple ballot question,” said Town Manager Bill Efting.The council approved the language with no debate. The issue had been hashed out at previous meetings. The only prior controversy was whether to include road work in a list of eligible projects for funding.Critics contended that the question could fail if voters felt expensive road projects would hog all the revenues. As it stands, the only road work that the new tax could fund would be alterations or projects required by construction of a trail, Efting said.There are a couple of signs that Basalt residents are willing to tax themselves for open space and trails projects. First, respondents in a community survey last year said they want more of those types of amenities.Second, voters approved a property tax increase in 2001 to launch the town’s open space and trails program. That property tax hike allowed the purchase of the property that became Old Pond Park, along the Roaring Fork River behind Taqueria El Nopal restaurant.The town has issued all the bonds allowed under that voter approval, according to Mayor Leroy Duroux. The property tax will be in place through 2025 to pay off those bonds.The midvalley ballot will also feature the library district’s request for almost $11 million to acquire land near the post office and to construct a new facility. The district will seek a property tax increase to pay off bonds that would be issued to pay for the new library. It will seek a second property tax increase to increase operating funds for the new facility.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.