Clifton’s choice: Tax more or receive less

Business owners and property owners in Clifton’s commercial area around the Interstate 70 Business Loop have a choice.

They can petition and vote for a 1 percent sales tax increase on goods and services to be passed along to customers to raise money for capital improvements. Or the county will simply allocate fewer dollars than it has in years past for capital funding projects, such as street and lighting improvements.

The idea for the area to create a public improvement district is the latest attempt by the county to have the unincorporated area begin to pay more of its share for continued growth.

“It’s unfortunate that the area has been allowed to grow to an urban level without any planning,” Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland said during a meeting Tuesday to gauge interest about the plan.

There are roughly 19,000 people in the Fruitvale and Clifton area, which makes up about 25 percent of unincorporated Mesa County’s total population. However, the Clifton area around the I-70 Business Loop has received about 55 percent of the county’s total capital-funding dollars, leading to an inequitable situation, Rowland said.

Tuesday’s meeting was the fourth of four meetings to measure interest in the public-improvement district. Rowland said most participants were in favor of the 1 percent sales tax increase, though a few people were concerned about any tax increases, in general.

Businesses in the area contribute the lowest amount of sales taxes, about 5 percent, of the county’s commercial zones.

A 1 percent increase on goods and services in the area could raise at least $500,000 a year, money that members of an advisory board could determine how to spend. The county also may match the increased sales tax revenue, Rowland said.

About 200 business and property owners would have to sign a petition to get the measure placed on a ballot for the area’s property owners within the business district to vote on. November 2012 is the earliest the issue would appear on a ballot.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Mesa County staff members said they will begin to investigate the petitioning process.


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