Council considers taxing food rather than property

Grand Junction City Council directed staff to prepare a report about how a tax on food sales would impact seniors and the poor should voters decide to tax groceries instead of real property.

The directive was issued as staff took council on a tour of tax policy and economic development opportunities during the Friday morning session of a daylong council retreat at Hope-
West.

No official action was taken.

Such a dramatic shift in tax policy would require an election by city voters, Mayor Phyllis Norris said.

A tax on food is a way to make sure “everybody pays their fair share,” Norris said.

Councilman Bennett Boeschenstein said he opposed taxes on food as regressive, with seniors and the poor taking the brunt of the burden because a larger percentage of their income goes to food. Boeschenstein urged council not to study the question further.

The shift would undoubtedly increase revenue to the city. Further study could show the reduction in property tax will ultimately offset the added cost of food tax, City Manager Rich Englehart said.

The tax on food also has the benefit of stability since all taxpayers eat at a fairly constant rate. Planning economic development is more difficult when tax revenue is saddled to the ups and downs of real property values, Norris said.

After some more discussion, council directed staff to study the impacts of a food tax and report at a later meeting.

Staff conceded the city is running out of areas where it can decrease costs for private business through tax policy since Grand Junction is already one of the more business-friendly cities in the state on several counts, according to a staff report.

Out of 21 cities, Grand Junction has the third-lowest municipal sales tax rate, no business license requirement and a plethora of tax exemptions, the report said.

The city is losing out on millions of dollars in potential revenue because the oil and gas and construction industries are beneficiaries of tremendous use tax exemptions, some of which no other city in the state offers.

For example, certain construction firms with headquarters in the city need to pay use tax only on projects completed within the city. Business generated outside the city is exempt from the tax under the city’s unique scheme.

Use tax is a tax on tangible personal property purchased for use, storage or consumption, but not for resale, as is the case with building supplies.

While the scheme definitely attracts businesses to have headquarters in Grand Junction, it also forgoes millions of dollars in revenue to the city, revenue other cities use auditors to collect, according to staff.

In some cases, construction firms pay use tax on only 10 percent of the building materials they store and consume, because 90 percent of the materials are used for projects outside the city, staff reported.


COMMENTS

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Put a fox(POLITICIANS)in the henhouse and you will have chicken for dinner every time. Let me get this straight. Politicians at every level control the purse strings. Thereby leaving most to believe that whenever one of them gets something passed we stand, salute and heil hitler that they GAVE some of taxpayer money BACK to the original owners. YEAH we exclaim. Albeit the percentage returned is at their WISDOM. We’ve a serious lack of jobs in this community. I am sure that theatre expenditures trump citizen care issues. The elderly and infirmed, the builders of this community, I am sure, will jump on their wheelchairs, rub their walkers to nubs and risk heart attacks to beat the doors down at the self appointed elitists cultural gatherings. So. We’ve no jobs to pay for any construction of homes and other such extravagant unnecessary daily life. Apparently the city cannot live within TABOR constraints. So. The city council “MUST” have more of our money to dole out for their BS projects. Our valley has been raped by the damned politicians who’ve taken on of the most profitable natural elements, oil and gas, and destroyed its profitability here. Government already taxes hell out of gasoline. Now food? Why not tax the hell out of medicine as well? One day all citizens will realize that the sole purpose of politicians is to get control of all of our money (excluding their own of course) and therefor our total lives. HEIL HITLER, Comrade Norris and company.

Food is hard enough to afford already.  Now the Council wants to make it worse?  This is an absolutely ridiculous proposal and will likely get any Council members who support it recalled.  I can’t vote in City elections, but I can contribute volunteer hours and a little money to make sure this doesn’t happen.

The Chambermades are at it again. Taxing food impacts poor much more than it impacts the wealthy. The only good news in this story is that it would take a vote of the people to institute a tax on food, and this just might be the issue that finally alerts the voting public to the elitists, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, who are only concerned with keeping money in the pockets of real estate developers, and not at all concerned with the impacts on real citizens. Add a food tax to someone who is just barely keeping food on the table because of low wages, and you’ve just made it impossible to feed their family with nutritious meals. Bad diets result in health problems. Health problems result in lost days from work. Hungry kids don’t learn. Anybody with a living brain cell can see how this spirals out of control. But think about this—I personally have the ability to shop for my food anywhere I want to—this would cause me to shop outside of Grand Junction just to avoid the food tax and thumb my nose at the Chambermades. Is Bennett Boeschenstein the only Councilor who took basic economics in college?

Yes indeedy. Lets just keep right on electing them over and over and over. Isn’t it grand that we’ve put our very health and welfare into such knowledgeable and caring hands. Yes indeedy. None of them give a hillbilly’s damned about citizens. It is about their “elitist” status and their own under the table earning. Indeed comrade Norris——“we should all pay our fair share.” However who in hell appointed you to decide what that share is? Why does this GJ Regime MORE money? What will you do with it? Maybe we can build yet another new and bigger police dept, equip it with the hottest new weapon systems and one day the government might try to enforce a police state. Should we prep our “Stars of David” and “Don’t tread on me” patches for quick application? You, for damned sure, were NOT elected to dictate one damned thing. How about keeping your “I know best that which is good for you” attitude in that place where sun doesn’t shine. Indeed that is where you and your ilk belong.

Indeed Comrade Norris “economic development” trumps everything. I am sure that the tax on food will impact you. Gawd you are just sickening. Some day an reckoning awaits us all.

Not Freida Cook - Am a relative - Patrick Rodgers - With the economy still hanging in the balance, elected officials at any level of government who consider increases in taxes are counterproductive.  If there is a shortage of revenue, officials should consider reducing services or the size of government and not taxing the food people eat.  While property taxes may not reach out and touch everyone, especially the poor, it does tax those of us who can afford it.  The voters need to watch this proposal very closely and unelect any Council Member who supports it.

Honestly, the chamber, um… I mean city council could find absolutely no other way to raise the city’s tax base other than taxing groceries?  That’s amazing, because there is a proven economic booster lying at right at their feet, that Council has turned up its nose at it. Recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of Colorado. The up-valley communities of Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen—that allow marijuana sales—are raking in taxes from it. Soon DeBeque will join them, and will get first crack at all the recreational marijuana cash (and sales taxes) as the first community inside Colorado’s western border to embrace its sale. People driving in from California, Utah and Arizona will drive right on through Grand Junction and spend their money in DeBeque. Then watch restaurants, bakeries, hotels and gas stations spring up there. People will pour off I-70 to spend their money in DeBeque and Grand Junction will miss out on all that economic activity because City Council has refused to to partake in the state’s booming new marijuana economy. It’s sad City Council is so bereft of ideas that they would consider taxing people’s food before exercising this all-too-obvious answer to their tax problem.

I like that Anne.

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