County financial board not supporting tax cut |

County financial board not supporting tax cut

Aspen Times Staff Report

Pitkin County’s Financial Advisory Board is urging voters to reject the tax-cut initiative known as Amendment 21 on the statewide ballot next month.

“Although the state and local tax structure needs reform, Amendment 21 is not a viable tax reform method,” reads a press release announcing the board’s recommendations. “The Financial Advisory Board recommends a NO vote on this issue.”

The Financial Advisory Board is made up of citizen volunteers who review and make recommendations on the county budget and other financial questions. It also regularly reviews ballot questions that will have a financial impact on Pitkin County taxpayers and government and issues its opinions.

Amendment 21 would affect county government and every other local government agency – from the fire district to the school district – by requiring them to cut taxes $25 next year and then add $25 to the cut every year thereafter. Some local taxing districts would collect no taxes to support their activities in as few as six years.

The advisory board is recommending voters approve Referendum 1C, an amendment to the home rule charter that would increase the salaries of county commissioners to the same amount that’s paid in other counties around the state. The salary increases would not take effect until the next time a particular seat on the county commission is up for election.

The advisory board is also urging voters to approve Referendum 4B/4C, the proposal to form a valleywide taxing district known as a rural transportation authority that would fund and manage an expanded bus system. “Current available information as presented to the Financial Advisory Board supports a financially viable operation. Therefore the Financial Advisory Board supports the concept of a combined, regional transportation authority,” the press release says.

On Referendum 2A, the city of Aspen’s proposal for a 1-percent tax on lodge and hotel rooms, the advisory board is recommending approval.

“The Financial Advisory Board recommends that voters take a strong look at both purposes of the tax,” the press release says. “A portion will be restricted to financial support of RTA operations in the upper end of the Roaring Fork Valley. The remainder will provide marketing and promotion of the Aspen area. Clearly, a promotional effort is necessary because the Aspen area is poorly competing with all the resorts of the world for the tourist dollar.”

The fifth recommendation calls for voters to support Referendum 1A, Pitkin County’s request to borrow $10.2 million for a variety of transit projects, including the purchase of new buses. “The Financial Advisory Board has researched the financial aspects of this ballot question and finds them sound,” the press release says.

Although it declined to issue a recommendation on the proposal by the Aspen School District to borrow $40.9 million, its press release did note that school taxes “consume more than 45 percent of the property taxes paid in the county. These taxes have been escalating over time.”

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Posted:Tuesday, October 24, 2000

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