Littleton City Council voted unanimously Aug. 16 to create a separate city fund account for new revenue brought in from its sales tax increase as well as to form an oversight committee for that fund.
The decision comes 10 months after voters approved a 0.75% sales tax hike, known as Ballot Issue 3A, which is projected to bring in about $9 million per year to pay for city infrastructure and maintenance projects.
The increase was hailed as a major achievement when it passed with nearly 59% of the vote during the November 2021 election. City staff had long been sounding the alarm on rapidly depleting funds for infrastructure, with the city's capital projects fund projected to hit $0 by 2025.
According to Finance Director Tiffany Hooten, the tax increase has already raised about $3 million as of July, with about $2.1 million of that allocated to grant-matching projects.
The new fund account and committee are intended "to ensure transparency," Hooten said, and make good on council's promise that the money will strictly go toward infrastructure.
The city is estimated to have about 70 backlogged projects, including road maintenance and updates to the city's fleet, which includes snow removal and police vehicles.
Some issues could be tackled sooner, such as alleviating traffic at the Santa Fe Drive and Mineral Avenue intersection by building a new road to divert traffic.
Other plans, such as repairs and renovations to aging city buildings, could take years to complete. Total spending of the funds is set to increase year over year, according to a proposal from city staff, with more than $14 million that could be spent in 2030, according to staff estimates.
Under council's decision, an eight-person committee will be formed — with applicants selected in January and beginning work in April — which will meet twice per year and present an annual review of the fund allocations to council.
Councilmember At-Large Pam Grove raised some concern that an evenly numbered committee could face gridlock and said, “we’re assuming there will be consensus."
City Manager Jim Becklenberg said while he and city staff are confident an even committee would be able to reach consensus as it reviews sales tax spending, any disagreements and alternate viewpoints of that committee could and should be shared with council.
Mayor Kyle Schlachter, who said he had shared Grove's concerns, said ultimately the council "can adjust the numbers later" should it become a problem.
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