With ballots hitting local mailboxes for the 2021 election, Castle Rock residents are being asked to consider four separate tax measures as town officials ask for assistance in creating new revenue streams.
While two measures focus on parks and recreation and open space, ballot measures 2A and 2D ask voters to help keep up with the cost of growth. As the population grows, the town is seeing a need for more police, fire, and emergency services. As traffic increases, some of the town’s major roadways are also in need of reconstruction.
The first measure is Ballot question 2A: New housing construction tax for police and fire. If approved by voters, a $7 per square foot tax would be levied on new home construction. The tax would not impact existing homeowners or construction currently underway. With approval, the new tax would go into effect for new home permits beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
In the first year of collecting revenues from the added construction tax, town officials anticipate $13.9 million in new revenue. Town Manager David Corliss has stressed the funding would go directly toward police, fire, and emergency services in Castle Rock.
Opponents of 2A, which includes local housing developers, have said a single-family home buyer will pay $15,000 or more in added taxes if the measure is approved.
If the town stopped growing now, Corliss said, emergency services are stable and there is no need for the added revenue. However, reality says growth will continue and it is not unrealistic that Castle Rock will push 100,000, Corliss said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Castle Rock is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state, with a 41.9% population increase from 2010. According to the data, Castle Rock’s 2020 population was 73,158. In 2010, the population was 48,251.
Looking at the five-year plan, Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley and Fire Chief Norris Croom have said they need more officers and firefighters to keep up with the town’s high level of standards for public safety. Without funding to hire more police officers and firefighters in the next five years, Croom and Cawley have warned that services could decrease as the population increases.
Besides new construction taxes, the town is also requesting voters approve a 10-year pause to TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) to help fund police, fire and the $75 million Crystal Valley Interchange reconstruction that is needed due to increased traffic at Interstate 25. If approved, instead of refunding excess tax revenue to citizens each year, the town would be able to keep the funds for the next 10 years, starting in 2022.
On the ballot, the TABOR question is listed as Ballot question 2D: Use of all excess revenues solely for police, fire, and roads.
On Oct. 1, the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce endorsed Ballot question 2D. The chamber reiterated Corliss’ position that 2D is not a tax increase as much as it is allowing the town to keep added revenues to pay for public safety and roads. In endorsing the measure, the chamber statement said, “We believe it is important to provide necessary funding for road infrastructure and public safety.”
During the Oct. 5 town council meeting, local firefighter Matt Osborn said he was speaking on behalf of 83 firefighters with the Castle Rock Professional Firefighters group. Osborn said the group endorses ballot measure 2A and 2D.
While the measures are being left up to the voters, the Castle Rock Town Council unanimously approved a resolution on Oct. 5 voicing support in approving not just tax measure 2A and 2D, but also measures 2B and 2C, which would create revenue to purchase open space and help fund needs with the parks and recreation department.
Castle Rock residents Wayne and Caryn Ann Harlos have spoken out against all four tax measures since the council began discussions in August. The Harloses say the measures are government overreach.
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