Election 2021: Lone Tree seeks tax hike for public services

Critics say now is not the time for more taxes

Posted

Will Lone Tree residents be willing to raise sales taxes for the next decade? Voters will decide in the election that ends Nov. 2.

The city council in August approved placing a measure on the ballot now in the hands of voters asking to raise sales tax by 1%. Council and staff tout the measure as having many benefits for Lone Tree and its residents, with little cost.

The city is anticipating a $12 million budget deficit if it does not begin bringing in more revenue, or a cumulative gap of $100 million in the next 15 years. Councilmembers and staff attribute stagnant sales tax revenue in recent years in part to shifting consumer habits and online shopping. The city has not increased its 1.5% sales tax since 1995.

If approved, the ballot measure would increase sales tax revenue by up to $15.6 million the first year and last for 10 years. Revenue would be used for city services such as public safety, maintaining roads and infrastructure, and parks and open space maintenance.

Some critics have argued now is not the time to ask for a tax increase. Residents will feel the hike on large purchases, and there could be ways of cutting city expenses or less-vital services, they've said. Others have questioned whether the city's forecasting will pan out, and if city staffers have overestimated the projected deficit.

Supporters say approving the measure will protect Lone Tree services like trash pickup and keep the police department fully funded. Street maintenance will stay on track, and people who visit the city will share in the tax burden.

Also, the city says non-residents account for 95% of city shoppers and will provide most of the sales tax revenue.

Ballot were mailed beginning Oct. 8. A list of drop box locations is available at cityoflonetree.com.

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