Gypsum hits the sales tax jackpot | AspenTimes.com

Gypsum hits the sales tax jackpot

Pam Boyd
Eagle correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GYPSUM, Colo. ” With the opening of Costco and the continued expansion of services at the Eagle County Regional Airport, Gypsum leaders anticipated sales tax receipts would jump during 2007.

What has happened, however, could more accurately be described as a soaring leap. The town’s 3 percent sales tax for 2007 has raised $2.9 million to date, compared to $1.5 million for all of last year.

“It’s basically up 84 percent,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll.

Costco representatives say business is good, with tire and liquor sales particularly strong. As part of its development agreement with Costco, Gypsum rebates 38 percent of sales ” excluding liquor ” for the first three years of operation to a maximum amount of $4.2 million.

But Shroll said tax growth in town, located roughly midway between Glenwood Springs and Eagle on the Interstate 70 corridor, reaches beyond Costco, with strong revenues across the board during 2007.

That’s good news for the town’s recreation center as well as several repair projects planned elsewhere in town in 2008. Additionally, Gypsum is adding nine new positions to its payroll, including a sales tax administrator and a special events planner who also will handle public relations.

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When Gypsum financed its new $8 million recreation center, the community voted to pay off that debt over the next 20 years with 1 percent of the town’s 4 percent sales tax going specifically to that project.

However, so far the community has already paid $2.25 million toward the rec center debt. “In two years, we have collected more than a quarter of what we owe on a 20-year note,” said Shroll.

The town may have to return to voters to continue the 1 percent sales tax after the rec center is paid off.

Road work is the most expensive part of Gypsum’s 2008 spending plan. And within that category, the biggest project is the $1.7 million extension of Jules Drive to Cooley Mesa Road. Currently the road, which intersects with U.S. Highway 6 east of the Gypsum Estates neighborhood, curves to the west and ends at Gypsum Elementary School.

By extending Jules Drive to Cooley Mesa Road, the town hopes to cut back on Valley Road truck traffic.

Shroll said Coors Distributing is closing its Glenwood Springs operation to move to the area and Waste Management is also relocating there from its Wolcott headquarters. Additionally, Federal Express and Wylaco are planning new operations at the site.

Other road projects planned in 2008 include continued construction of acceleration/deceleration lane on U.S. Highway 6 near Eagle Valley High School.

This year, the highway was widened near the stoplight so a left-hand turn lane could be extended. Next year, acceleration lanes out of the school parking lot will be added.