RFTA adjusts property tax mill levy to honor campaign promise
One of RFTA’s first tasks for 2019 was to give property owners within its boundary a temporary tax credit so it lives up to campaign promises made during the November election.
The bus agency’s proposal to create a new property tax was approved by regional voters in the November election. A 2.65 mill levy was authorized. However, there was a “miscommunication” regarding how a complex state constitution provision called the Gallagher Amendment would affect residential property tax rates in Colorado for the 2018 tax year, according to RFTA officials.
If taxes were assessed at 2.65 mills during this first year, it would affect individual homeowners to a greater degree than portrayed during the election. Therefore, RFTA’s board of directors approved a temporary tax credit of 0.401 mill for the 2019 budget year. That will result in a first year mill levy of 2.249 mills. Tax collectors will automatically make that adjustment on bills, RFTA officials said.
The property tax hike was approved 11,364 to 10,362 by voters in Pitkin County, Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle.
The new property tax is expected to raise an estimated $8.46 million of new revenue for RFTA. That’s about 15 percent of all revenue.
The bulk of revenue will still be raised by sales and use taxes. They are expected to combine for $23.24 million, or 42 percent of all revenue.
Service contracts with Aspen Skiing Co., city of Aspen, city of Glenwood Springs and other entities will raise an estimated $12 million or 21 percent of overall revenue.
RFTA passed a general fund budget just shy of $35 million. When debt service and restricted funds were added in, the total budget was $50.84 million.
Bus fares will remain the same in 2019. RFTA is doing an extensive study of its fare rates to come up with a long-term strategy.
The agency plans to enhance service next year when it takes possession of additional buses. It has eight electric battery buses and four regular buses scheduled for delivery, according to CEO Dan Blankenship. At least four additional buses will be ordered next year, he said.
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The U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday it is starting review of Pitkin County’s proposal for a trail between Redstone and McClure Pass. The process will include two chances at public comment.