By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Residents of Dinosaur went to the polls on Tuesday to decide if the town should create a sales tax for itself. The proposed 2.1 percent tax would raise approximately $26,000 for the town's budget in the first financial cycle.
The initiative passed with 59 votes in favor versus 27 votes against the proposed tax. Eighty-six of a possible 344 registered voters in Dinosaur cast their ballots a 25 percent turnout.
The sales tax will capture some of the $1.2 million of tourist-related revenue that was spent in Dinosaur last year. The passing of this initiative is "fantastic," said Wendy Peterson, Dinosaur city councilor.
"This means we'll be able to recoup some of our losses from the last few years. Hopefully, this will allow us to keep our services at the level they're at now," she said. "The way [the ballot] was worded, 50 percent of the revenue from this tax has to go into capital improvements which we hope will be money used for matching grants."
Dinosaur is pursuing a grant that would help fund infrastructure improvements, including water flows and fire protection needs, Peterson said. The tax can repealed only by another ballot initiative.
Richard Blakely, owner of the B&B Restaurant and former mayor of Dinosaur, opposed the initiative.
"I guess people must want this tax or else they would have gotten out and voted it down," he said. "I know they can use the money this town is in a sad situation. I just hope they use it well."
A similar initiative was attempted by Blakely's administration, but it was defeated by those who have now voted in favor of the sales tax which is one of the reasons the town is so behind financially, Blakely said.
Clint Morrill, mayor of Dinosaur said the town is in a financial bind because it has lost the county sales tax money it used to receive because that money is now being used for the Moffat County Public Safety Center (PSC). In addition, he said the town has lost $27,000 in severance taxes. The rising cost of utility bills plus the $7,400 annually that Dinosaur now pays the PSC for communication services also have made the budget very tight, he said.
Dinosaur's budget has fallen from approximately $202,000 in 1999 to approximately $104,000 for 2001.