Voters to decide on Carbondale tax extension
August 26, 2010
CARBONDALE – Voters will be asked whether to extend a 1.5 mill levy that’s set to expire at the end of the year in order to continue paying for various public improvement projects around town.
Town trustees on Tuesday formally approved an ordinance placing the question on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. It will ask Carbondale voters if the property tax should be extended for another 10 years until 2020.
For the past 10 years, the special tax fund has gone for such projects as the downtown “streetscape” work, which included new sidewalks, landscaping, old-fashioned street lights and the brick “bulbouts” at several Main Street intersections that are intended for better pedestrian safety.
Revenues from the tax have grown over the years, from just under $100,000 in 2001 to more than $262,000 projected for this year. Proceeds are expected to decline next year, however, due to the expected drop in assessed property valuations.
Although the tax was designated for public streets and parking improvements, pedestrian safety and general beautification projects throughout the town, the primary focus has been on the downtown area.
With an extension of the tax, future revenues could be used for such projects in other parts of town besides Main Street, trustees and others in attendance at an Aug. 17 Town Council meeting suggested.
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“We helped push it through the last time, and we were able to make some significant improvements,” said Chris Chacos, chair of the Downtown Preservation Association. “We really need to promote how much has been done in the last 10 years.”
The kinds of projects that helped beautify and improve pedestrian safety and parking in the downtown area could now be extended to the Highway 133 corridor, he said.
“It didn’t get distributed around town quite as much as we would have liked,” Chacos added. “It needs to be more community-wide this time.”
One Highway 133 business owner, Terry Kirk, said he agrees some things can be done to improve the highway entrance into town.
“We need a hook to get people into town from Highway 82,” he said.
However, he said he would oppose using the special tax money to build any of the proposed roundabouts along 133.
“I’m not buying into that,” he said. “This is still mostly about protecting the viability of downtown, and addressing the need for parking. I see a continued need to keep Main Street viable for Carbondale.”
At least one town board member wanted to consider increasing the amount of the levy up to 2.5 mills.
“I’m afraid 1.5 mills isn’t going to get us very far,” Trustee Ed Cortez said.
However, Chacos pointed out that, even though the tax doesn’t generate a lot of revenue, it has been used over the years to leverage state grant applications.