Basalt should refund taxes in one year
A refund to Basalt taxpayers of the $2 million in wrongly collected property taxes should occur within one year to end the 10-year accounting debacle.
Basalt Town Council could achieve this by selling the six affordable-housing units not occupied by town employees and making up the difference by tapping the town’s multimillion dollar reserves. The reserve fund is for financial emergencies.
This option has the advantage of eliminating a 10% interest rate on refunds not paid in one year, or having to take out a loan. A loan based on certificates of participation would carry a repayment cost of $243,000 a year for 10 years.
The loan repayment would come from the town’s general fund, which finances most of the town’s services and operations. Already running on a tight budget with a small staff, vital services would have to be reduced and desirable “frills” like arts, concerts and recreation, deeply slashed.
While providing employee housing is a desirable benefit, it is not the essential function of town government. If selling the six units still results in too much of a drain on the reserve fund, then the town would have to sell some of the seven occupied units.
Now is the time for council to be transparent and disclose the how, when and what happened that resulted in 10 years of wrongful tax collection. The current chief financial officer discovered it by doing a thorough due diligence review, upon assuming the position.
What were the results of the review and were any other financial irregularities uncovered?
The town also should disclose the total amount of tax improperly collected over 10 years.