Council considers tax increase options

Budget shortfalls in funding police and fire departments a concern as the town continues to grow.

Thelma Grimes
tgrimes@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/23/21

In exploring options to find new revenue streams to pay for the town's rising operational costs, the Castle Rock Town Council is considering asking voters to approve new taxes in a special November …

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Council considers tax increase options

Budget shortfalls in funding police and fire departments a concern as the town continues to grow.

Posted

In exploring options to find new revenue streams to pay for the town's rising operational costs, the Castle Rock Town Council is considering asking voters to approve new taxes in a special November election.

During the June 15 study session, Town Manager David Corliss provided council members with a variety of options, including increasing sales taxes, property taxes, lodging tax and asking voters to change TABOR, Colorado's taxpayer bill of rights that restricts revenues collected by the town.

To help council members in making decisions, Corliss said the town conducted a scientific poll that focused on ballot language for five revenue areas. In the poll, 827 likely November voters were asked how they felt about an increase in property taxes, adding a new-home construction tax, a sales tax increase, lodging tax increase, and a temporary or permanent change to TABOR.

Corliss said based on the poll results, a property tax increase has the lowest likelihood of success in a November election. A lodging tax scored the highest. Corliss said a sales tax increase and changing the rules of TABOR could be viable to ask voters, but none of them were strongly supported by poll participants.

Corliss stressed that the added revenue streams are needed specifically to fund the town's police and fire department's growing needs. In March, Fire Chief Norris Croom and Police Chief Jack Cauley expressed concerns over staffing levels falling behind as the town continues to grow. Both public safety chiefs said if something does not change, they do not feel they can keep providing the high standard of service that has come to be expected.

While the council did not make any decisions on the options presented on June 15, Corliss stressed that time is of the essence to get on the November ballot for a special election.

“In July, you need to make a go or no-go decision in regard to ballet measures,” he said.

The council will need to make final decisions during the July council meetings, allowing the town attorney time to get the right language to the Douglas County elections offices by September.

As town staff continues to explore options, a website, CRgov.com/OurFuture, has been established to keep the public updated.

Following the special study session, the council held the regular council meeting, approving several preconstruction contracts for upcoming road projects.

The first contract, with Jacobs Engineering, provides for preconstruction services for the planned Crystal Valley interchange on Interstate 25, south of Plum Creek Parkway. The town will pay Jacobs up to $7.6 million to finish the project's design, complete the traffic analysis needed for Interstate access, and update a federally required environmental assessment.

This approved work will keep the project on track for construction starting in 2023, pending funding availability.

The council also approved a precontract with Stanley Consultants to provide the design for improvements to Fifth Street, including additional lanes, intersection improvements, and bike lanes and sidewalks along the corridor.

The town will pay up to $1.5 million for that work, to get the project ready for phased construction starting in 2023, contingent on budget approval. Outreach for public input would be an important part of the design process.

Also on the agenda, the council extended a financial agreement with Arapahoe Community College for a future second building on the school's Castle Rock campus. In 2017, the town invested $2 million in the building currently on the campus and committed another $1 million in investment if a second building was built by the end of July 2022. Due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ACC requested the town extend this agreement through July 2025.

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