Pitkin County voters to be polled on property tax question
Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday approved spending more than $11,000 on a poll to find out what voters think about renewing a property tax that supports health and human services in the upper Roaring Fork Valley.
Known as the Health Community Fund, the tax is scheduled to expire at the end of the year after voters last re-authorized it for six years in 2011. It was first approved by voters in 2006.
The mill levy — which works out to $5.40 per $100,000 in assessed property value — supports numerous health-related services in Pitkin County, including senior services, scores of non-profits dedicated to improving the community and mental and physical health-related programs.
Commissioners and county officials are trying to come up with a ballot question for November that would offer voters the option of renewing the tax. To that end, the county will pay $11,500 to an Arlington, Virginia-based polling company called Fredrick Polls to ask 300 registered Pitkin County voters a series of questions about the tax.
On Tuesday, commissioners offered their opinions on the list of about 30 questions proposed for the poll. Two of the main areas to be explored include asking voters’ opinions about how long to extend the property tax and if there’s a willingness to increase the mill levy.
For example, if the tax is increased from $5.40 per $100,000 to $6.57, the tax would raise an extra $500,000 a year that could fund more programs, said Mitzi Ledingham, deputy director of the county’s Health and Human Services Department.
Commissioner Rachel Richards suggested offering a third higher possible mill levy in the poll as well under the assumption that voters likely wouldn’t choose the highest but might settle for the middle number.
A similar logic was applied to the possible length of the tax. Commissioners agreed to ask voters if they would rather have a shorter-term tax in the six-to-nine-year range, a longer-term in the 20-year range or a permanent tax.
The results of the poll should be back to the commission at their work session June 12. That information will likely spur a longer discussion about how exactly to work the re-authorization question for the November ballot.
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