Carbondale to consider sales tax rebate on food | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale to consider sales tax rebate on food

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Community activist Bill Lamont suggested this week that the town should investigate the idea of a rebate on sales taxes on food, mainly for the elderly and perhaps other hard-pressed segments of the population.

Lamont, a former member of the Roaring Fork School District board, made the proposal at the Carbondale Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

The trustees liked the idea and put Lamont in charge of research into how a rebate of Carbondale’s 3.5 percent sales tax might work and who might benefit from it.

“I believe this is an idea whose time has come,” Lamont told the trustees, noting that the cities of Aspen and Boulder each have a sales tax rebate program.

Lamont said he was working for the city of Boulder when that program was created in 1967, as part of a campaign to encourage voters there to approve a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund open space purchases.

He thought of proposing a rebate for Carbondale, he said, after reading a recent Denver Post story about the Boulder program.

Lamont stressed to the trustees that the idea should be investigated on its own merit, and not in connection with the town’s current debates about the Village at Crystal River.

The town is asking voters to uphold or overturn the town board’s recent approval of the Village at Crystal River development in a Jan. 31 mail-only election.

A controversial part of the VCR project is imposition of a 1 percent “public improvements fee,” or PIF, on retail sales by businesses in the VCR shopping complex.

Proponents say the PIF is needed to pay for improvements to Highway 133 where it passes the VCR property. Opponents have argued that the PIF is an unfair burden on shoppers and a subsidy for the developer.

Lamont is a vocal supporter of the “Say YES to Carbondale” organization backing the Village at Crystal River mixed-use residential and commercial development proposal, which is subject to an ongoing municipal special election.

Lamont told the trustees that he was appearing at the Tuesday meeting as an individual, not as a representative of the Say YES group or VCR developer Rich Schierburg.

“I think it’s immaterial if it passes or not.” he said of VCR in relation to the sales tax rebate idea. “I think it’s an important thing for Carbondale to at least look at.

“I’m talking about particularly the low-income people in Carbondale,” he added.

The idea first came up publicly at a Jan. 11 forum about the VCR, held at Town Hall, where developer Rich Schierburg and members of the Say YES group faced off against the opposition, Locals for Smarter Growth.

Mayor Stacey Bernot praised the idea at Tuesday’s meeting, saying, “I think that would really help, especially our folks that we want to take care of in our community.”

She suggested the trustees schedule a work session to explore the idea, and the board delegated Lamont to work with Town Manager Jay Harrington and Finance Director Nancy Barnett to come up with a specific tax rebate proposal.

Lamont said he could come back with specific information by early February.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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