Chris Nichols: To the city of Craig voters
I’m new to city council, and after my first 6 months, which have largely been spent working on the budget, I want provide information I’ve learned about the city’s budget. I have been asked the following questions about why the City needs more revenue. The answers are why I support Referred Measure 2A in this election.
Q. Why does the city need more money?
A. The largest declining revenue source has been in mineral lease and severance taxes the city receives. Those revenues have declined from a high of $2 million to $785,000 in 2017. Sales tax revenues are down but only slightly compared to mineral revenues.
Q. Why has the city not cut spending?
A. The General Fund expenses have decreased from a high of $10.1 million to $8.7 million projected for 2018.
Q. The city has too many employees; can it not make cuts there?
A. The City has 12 fewer full-time employees today than it had four years ago.
Q. When was the last time the city increased the sales tax rate?
A. The last increase was in 1990, 27 years ago. In fact, back in 1993, the citizens voted to repeal the use tax, which resulted in a 2-percent reduction that has never been replaced. Just for information, the average inflation rate, the money the city pays for goods and services it purchases, has increased 3 percent per year during the same period.
Q. Why are the auto dealers and OHV vehicle dealers being exempt from the sales tax?
A. To be competitive with the out-of-town dealers, you will keep in your pocket the money you would have paid in city sales tax. The city dealers will not collect it at time of purchase, as they do now. This has proven to be an economical boost to cities such as Silverthorne.
Q. What will happen if the sales tax increase does not pass?
A. The City has already cut expenses and personnel. To balance the budget in 2018, more than $600,000 still needs to be cut, meaning even deeper cuts to personnel and expenses. With fewer people and less revenue, services have to be reduced. You can take this as a threat, but really it’s just pure fact. The city will have fewer people to be out on the streets — fewer people to staff parks and rec programs and fewer people to conduct community programs and quality-of life-amenities. All these services come from the taxes the city collects. Less revenue equals less service. That’s just a fact.
The “Historic Donation” article in June 12’s newspaper brings up several questions in my mind.