Council looks to voters for new revenue streams

Four measures eyed for fall ballot, including a 10-year TABOR pause

Thelma Grimes
tgrimes@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/11/21

To sufficiently meet the growing needs of the Castle Rock police and fire departments and parks and recreation, Town Manager David Corliss said $13 million in new revenue streams must be created. …

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Council looks to voters for new revenue streams

Four measures eyed for fall ballot, including a 10-year TABOR pause

Posted

To sufficiently meet the growing needs of the Castle Rock police and fire departments and parks and recreation, Town Manager David Corliss said $13 million in new revenue streams must be created.

During the July 6 meeting, the Castle Rock Town Council directed staff to draft proposed ballot measures that could generate the needed funds through tax increases and a pause on TABOR refunds.

The council is expected to review the wording of the ballot measures on July 20. If the process continues, voters will consider the options during the November election.

If finalized by the council, voters will be asked to approve the following:

New home construction tax: While current residents will not be impacted, if approved, the new tax would place a $7 per square foot fee on all new multi-family and single-family residences. Revenue from the tax would allow the town to add 75 fire and police positions between 2022 and 2026, Corliss said.

Lodging tax: Voters will be asked to approve a 6% lodging tax on hotels and motels. Besides police and fire, Corliss said the tax increases will also be used to support parks and recreation services, which are also stretched thin due to continued growth.

Sales tax: The town is proposing a 0.1% sales tax increase to fund the acquisition and maintenance of open space and trails. The council voted 5-1 to move forward with the ballot measure. In voting against the measure, Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken said he would like to focus solely on revenue options to fund growing needs in police, fire and parks. Bracken said adding this sales-tax option could be confusing to voters.

TABOR timeout: If approved, this would implement a 10-year timeout from the revenue restrictions of the state's TABOR law. Corliss said the town will be able to use the extra revenue to build a new interchange at Interstate 25 and Crystal Valley Parkway, and support police and fire services as needed.

Corliss said TABOR rules can be confusing to residents. The TABOR Amendment, approved by voters in 1992, limits the amount of revenue that the state and local governments can retain and spend. If funds exceed a certain amount, the law requires the state and other taxing entities to refund taxpayers.

Corliss said TABOR has been a controversial issue in the state, and other entities have successfully gotten voters to reverse it. TABOR limitations have been removed through voter-approved measures in Boulder, Denver, Thornton, Broomfield, and Aurora. Corliss said other jurisdictions have removed TABOR limitations temporarily. Loveland paused TABOR rules through the year 2024.

Corliss said Castle Rock voters have not approved a tax increase since 1994 but the town has stretched its resources as far as they can go. Corliss told councilmembers they could skip asking voters for the tax increases and take money from other areas such as roads and infrastructure, but he would not recommend it, since roads do not fix themselves.

Fire Chief Norris Croom and Police Chief Jack Cauley said that when resident ask why the added tax money is needed, it comes down to keeping up with growth.

Castle Rock currently has a population of more than 75,000. The town is expected to increase to 90,000 residents by 2026. By 2030, growth estimates have the town exceeding the 100,000 mark.

Corliss said the town currently grows by an average of three families per day, increasing the population by about 2,000 per year. As growth continues, public services need to grow, he said.

“If we did not grow anymore, we really wouldn't need a new fire station, we wouldn't need more police officers,” Corliss said. “We're basically meeting our needs right now with our existing staff. But we are on track to continue to grow.”

Mayor Jason Gray said an important point in the current discussions is not that the council is approving tax increases, they are approving ballot measures to ask the voters.

Gray said whatever voters decide, the council will respect the decisions.

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