Pitkin voters share views on tax hike | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin voters share views on tax hike

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A majority of Pitkin County voters apparently would not vote for a tax hike to pay for proposals to redevelop or expand a number of government facilities in downtown Aspen.

At the same time, according to a recently conducted poll, there is only modest support for tax increases to repair county roads and to create a special water fund intended to maintain and improve water quality and quantity, and river health for Pitkin County waterways.

The poll, conducted by telephone in early May by FrederickPolls of Arlington, Va., asked registered voters a number of questions about their feelings regarding economic, social and environmental conditions and other factors of life in Pitkin County, and about possible ballot questions on certain issues in the November general election.

Pollsters talked with 381 registered voters over the course of five days ” May 4 through May 8.

In a summary for the county commissioners, who will review and discuss the poll and its implications during a work session Tuesday, staffer Tom Oken noted that “the two ‘building bonds’ [ballot questions proposing a tax hike to pay for city/county building programs] are opposed by a majority of voters.”

For example, he wrote in the summary, 57 percent of the respondents indicated they were opposed to a $13 million “replacement-consolidation” plan known as the “ZG Master Plan,” if it involves a property-tax hike equivalent to $3.20 per month for every $100,000 of residential property value.

The master plan involves redevelopment of the Zupancis property next to the Courthouse Plaza building on Main Street, the Galena Street Plaza space next to the Pitkin County Library, the former Aspen Youth Center building next to the county jail and other properties around town. The idea mainly is to build additional office space, meeting rooms and other facilities to meet the expanding needs of the city and county governments.

In addition, 59 percent of the respondents said they opposed a sales-tax hike of approximately 30 cents on every $100 purchase of goods in Pitkin County, which would be used to expand space devoted to law enforcement, courts and a limited amount of underground parking adjacent to the county courthouse.

Voters indicated support, however, for county proposals to increase sales taxes by one-tenth of 1 percent, which would raise approximately $1 million per year, to establish a water fund.

The money, according to early indications, could be used for legal fees to fight for the county’s existing water rights and to buy additional water rights. In the survey, 58 percent of respondents favored the idea, while 33 percent opposed it.

Voters also said they favored, by a margin of 57 percent to 38 percent, the idea of raising property taxes by $16 for every $100,000 of property value to fix up the county’s roads. The fund would raise an estimated $5.4 million per year for a term of 20 years.

An even greater percentage of voters, 68 percent, were in favor of an alternative proposal to raise property taxes by a rate of $16 for every $100,000 of a home’s value. Twenty-seven percent were against the hike.

Pollster Keith Frederick will be on hand at the county commissioners’ work session, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Courthouse Plaza building, to give a presentation on the polling results and answer questions.