Ballot measures 2A, 5A ask for tax increases to benefit city budget, student housing
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series about the four ballot issues city of Craig and Moffat County voters will decide in the Nov. 7 Coordinated Election. The series will conclude Wednesday with a look at town of Dinosaur Referred Measure 2B and Pot Hook Water Conservancy District Referred Measure 5B.
CRAIG — Voters in the city of Craig and Moffat County will decide the fate of four referred measures, all of which would involve tax issues, when they cast their ballots in the Nov. 7 Coordinated Election.
Following are explanations of what two of these measures — City of Craig Referred Measure 2A and Moffat County Affiliated Junior College Referred Measure 5A — propose and why they are being put forward, as well as written comments for and against the proposals.
City of Craig Referred Measure 2A
This measure asks Craig voters to approve a 1.75 percent increase in the city’s sales tax rate. If passed by voters, the maximum dollar amount that could be collected in 2019, the first full fiscal year incorporating the increase, would be capped at $2.1 million. In subsequent years, the city would collect the full amount generated by the increase.
The city sales tax rate is currently 2.25 percent.
Hotels, motels and overnight and short-term rentals would be exempt from the increase, though they would still pay the existing 2.25 percent city sales tax, as well as a 1.9 percent lodging tax and a 4 percent Local Marketing District tax.
After the first year, the increase, if approved, would net the city about $2.1 million annually in extra revenue.
In addition, Referred Measure 2A would do away with existing and future city sales tax on vehicles and off-highway vehicles purchased within the city limits of Craig.
According to city officials, the sales tax increase is needed to offset an 8-year trend of decreasing tax revenues which — despite budget cuts and spending reductions — will leave a $1.75 million budget shortfall. This, officials say, could lead to additional cuts to recreational programs, parks and athletic facility operation and maintenance, road and storm drainage maintenance, snow plowing and law enforcement services.
Officials say approval of the increase will allow the city to continue such services at existing levels.
Opponents of the measure argue the measure requests a tax increase without clearly explaining the justification for the increase or specifying how the funds would be spent. Opponents also say the collection of tax revenue should be fair, justified and consistent and that the lodging and automobile purchase exemptions included in the measure contradict these principles.
The last sales tax increase approved by Craig voters was enacted in 1990 and increased the sales tax rate by 0.5 percent.
Moffat County Affiliated Junior College Referred Measure 5A
The measure asks voters in Moffat County to authorize a property tax increase of $2 million in 2018 and of no more than 5 mills in subsequent years.
Funds generated by the increase would be used by the Craig Campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College primarily to build, operate and maintain a 100-bed on-campus student housing facility and cafeteria.
If approved by voters, the measure would sunset in 2048.
The additional revenues will also be used to support tuition assistance for district residents enrolled at CNCC, supplemental program funding for the college, the construction of new facilities or the renovation of existing facilities, technology enhancements or supplemental equipment and operating costs of district facilities.
CNCC officials say the provision of on-campus housing — by eliminating the question of housing for long-distance students — will increase the college’s ability to grow certificate and degree programs to a larger market and enhance student recruitment incentives.
Officials also say the increase will provide a positive economic impact for the county, as students and their families will shop and recreate in Craig, and on-campus students seeking work will add to the local labor pool.
Opponents of Referred Measure 5A say CNCC offers no justification, location or project earmarked for the additional funds generated by the mill levy increase, which, they say, would present a $60 million burden on county taxpayers over the next 30 years.
Opponents also say passage of 5A could undermine the future outlook for potential mill levy increases that may be needed by the Moffat County School District.