Pitkin County OKs ballot questions
September 2, 2008
ASPEN ” It’s official: Pitkin County will ask voters for permission to raise taxes in order to raise sufficient money to keep the county’s roads in good shape and to create a special fund to protect the county’s access to water in the region’s rivers and streams.
County commissioners formally OK’d the tax questions at a meeting Tuesday in Aspen.
Commissioners also approved a ballot question that would give the county Open Space and Trails Board authority to complete a land swap involving the Ryan Parcel near the ghost town of Ashcroft, south of Aspen.
The land swap, initiated in 1992 has involved an act of Congress, among other efforts. It is meant to turn the 35-acre Ryan Parcel over to the U.S. Forest Service in exchange for more than 262 acres of land elsewhere in the county, plus other considerations.
The tax increase actually will involve two questions relating to two separate tax hikes ” one requesting permission to raise property taxes to pay for roads, the other to increase the county’s sales tax to benefit the water fund.
Referendum 1A would raise the county’s sales tax rate by one-tenth of 1 percent, or a dime on every $100 purchase of goods within the county, which is expected to generate approximately $1 million dollars in revenues in the first year.
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The money will go into a special fund dedicated to water issues, including maintaining and improving water quality within the Roaring Fork River watershed, buying and defending water rights, and augmenting minimum streamflow protections for local creeks and streams, among other things.
The property tax hike, under Referendum 1B, would be for two mills, which would equate to $16 per year per $100,000 of assessed value of residential property within Pitkin County; it is expected to generate up to $5.4 million annually.
Although the tax revenues would go into the county’s general fund, officials have pledged they would be used only for road improvements and maintenance.
The ballot questions will be put to county voters in the Nov. 4 general election.
For more on the ballot measures, see Wednesday’s Aspen Times.