Craig City Council discusses tax increase |

Craig City Council discusses tax increase

Patrick Kelly
Members of Craig City Council and city staff gather for a special meeting on Thursday evening.
Patrick Kelly

Craig City Council and city staff held a special meeting Thursday to discuss a potential sales tax increase and introducing a use tax.

Facing a $600,000 budget shortfall in 2017, the city is faced with either asking voters to raise taxes or cutting services.

“The big dollars being spent from the general fund is to provide services to the citizens,” said Craig finance director Bruce Nelson.

To keep providing those services, the city needs more revenue.

The sales tax increase discussed would be 1.25 percent and creating a use tax, which would subject goods bought outside of Craig to local taxes, was debated as well.

Without an increase in revenue, the city would have no funding for capital projects and likely have to reduce the services it provides to Craig residents.

“Just to give you an idea of where we’re at and what we’re holding back on, the last six years we’ve only given a three percent cost-of-living raise to city employees,” Nelson said.

Councilman John Ponikvar said he was nervous that putting the two taxes together on one initiative might prevent people from passing either one.

“One will undermine the other,” he said.

The increased sales tax would generate an additional nearly $2 million, while the use tax is projected to bring in $180,000.

Councilman Tony Bohrer said he doesn’t want Craig residents to think that speaking about cutting services is a scare tactic; it’s simply a reality.

“I don’t want us to have to go and make these huge cuts for our community to finally go ‘oh man, I don’t get this? I don’t get that?’” he said.

The last time voters approved an increase in sales tax was November 2000.

The city council cannot campaign for any initiative they send to a vote, but Councilman Derek Duran said educating voters and changing tax from being a “bad word” is crucial to solving the city’s financial situation.

“I think it’s time we change that mindset that we’re talking about,” he said. “Somehow, I think it’s our job to get out and change that mindset.”

Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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