Pitkin County commissioners support RFTA ballot question, want more info
Pitkin County commissioners were cautiously supportive Tuesday of a mill levy to support RFTA after listening to roughly the same presentation as city council members heard Monday.
Board Chairwoman Patti Clapper said she supports an improved bus system but wants to see what other funding issues end up on the November ballot before throwing her full support behind a property tax for RFTA. One of her chief concerns, she said, is reauthorizing the Healthy Community Fund mill levy, which supports much of Pitkin County’s health care and public health initiatives.
Clapper also pointed out that under the new federal tax law recently signed by President Donald Trump, people can no longer write off their property taxes, which could sour voters on property tax increases. Finally, she urged the RFTA board to tell voters how much property taxes would rise on a yearly basis, not by month as statistics presented Tuesday showed, in order to be as transparent as possible.
“I need to see what’s on the ballot for November … and what the other jurisdictions do,” Clapper said. “We need to keep an open mind.”
Commissioner Greg Poschman said he will work to support and pass whatever mill levy number the RFTA board decides to ask for, though he was concerned about how a downturn in the national economy might affect voters’ minds.
“If there’s a recession it will be hard to swallow a big tax increase,” he said. “(But) I will work as hard as I can for (a RFTA mill levy). I certainly believe in it.”
Commissioner Steve Child said he’s supportive of a mill levy to support RFTA and urged RFTA officials to tell voters how RFTA affects them whether they use bus service and what RFTA-related improvements each community might receive if the mill levy passes.
Commissioner George Newman, a member of the RFTA board, compared supporting the transit agency to paying school taxes.
“It enhances society as a whole,” he said.
Commissioner Rachel Richards did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
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To level the playing field between those who pay sales and lodging taxes on nightly rentals and those who skirt them, the city is ready to take names and make them pay.