This story was updated at 10 a.m. Nov. 10.
Those who own property in Golden city limits will be paying more taxes in 2024, as voters approved a 6-mill increase to help the Golden Fire Department keep two stations fully staffed 24/7.
Golden voters passed Ballot Issue 2K by 54%. As of Nov. 8, there were 3,876 votes for 2K and 3,281 votes against it. Election results will be certified in the coming days.
Additionally, the city’s ballot questions on keeping a $600,000 lodging tax surplus and updating the city charter with more gender-neutral language — such as changing “councilman” to “councilor” — also passed. The former passed by 80%; and the latter, by 75%.
Ballot Issue 2K should generate about $4.7 million for the Golden Fire Department in its first year. On Nov. 8, City Manager Scott Vargo confirmed the city will be modifying its 2024 budget based on the election results.
Starting in 2024, Vargo said residential property owners will see an increase of roughly $35 per year per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. So, for a $500,000 residence, the homeowner would pay an additional $175 in property taxes.
The formula’s different for non-residential properties.
According to Vargo, the fire department currently receives general fund dollars but doesn’t have any dedicated tax revenues.
He estimated that, historically, the department has received about 4 mills worth of funding from the city’s general fund. Now, he said, the city will maintain that level of general funds while adding on the new 6 mills from 2K. Thus, roughly 60% of the Golden Fire Department’s funding will be from property tax revenues, he explained.
Overall, Vargo continued, these property tax revenues will help cover the gap in expenses, as Golden has morphed from an all-volunteer department to a combination department.
Specifically, it’ll help fund 14 positions, including firefighters and battalion chiefs. Nine of these positions have been grant-funded, although funding for two of them has expired and funding for the other seven will expire in the next two years, Vargo explained. Because the city can’t reapply for those grants, it had to generate its own funding to preserve the positions.
Now, the city will be able to keep two fire stations fully staffed 24/7 with this new funding source, he said.
It will also help fund training and certification upgrades, which Vargo said will “improve response times and response capabilities.”
It’ll also allow the department to buy additional pieces of “life-saving equipment,” he said. One example is a second set of personal protective equipment for Golden’s professional firefighters. That way, Vargo said, if there are back-to-back calls, the firefighters can wear the second set while the first is being decontaminated.
Lodging tax surplus
With Ballot Issue 2L passing, Golden can retain a $589,000 lodging tax surplus and use it toward city grants and other projects.
Vargo confirmed that the funds will go toward managing the Clear Creek corridor with trail improvements, code enforcement and more; the Ore Cart shuttle system with Colorado School of Mines; and providing community grants for 20 local nonprofits.
In November 2021, Golden voters passed a 6% lodging tax to help address visitor impacts on the city and to fund capital improvement projects. The ballot language said the tax would generate $2 million in its first year, based on city officials’ estimates from 2020 and early 2021 data.
However, the tax generated $2.6 million in its first year, creating a surplus the city needed voter approval to use because of the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Vargo thanked the voters for their support, saying it was great to see all three ballot questions pass in the Nov. 7 election.
Community elections are dynamic, so this story may be updated as new information becomes available.
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