County slims business tax, inviting growth and new firms

Mesa County will decrease the business personal property tax on equipment used by businesses in Mesa County by half a million dollars next year.

Mesa County Commissioners Janet Rowland and Craig Meis announced the change Thursday. Meis said the elimination of taxes on the first $150,000 of equipment a business owns may cost the county as much as a quarter of its usual intake from business personal property taxes.

But he said it’s worth it if the reduction encourages businesses to move to or expand in Mesa County.

“You have to pay sales tax to buy equipment. You shouldn’t have to pay to use it each year,” Meis said.

El Paso and Arapahoe counties also reduced their business personal property taxes. Meis said he hopes the tax reduction lasts longer than just the 2010 budget in Mesa County. The budget will be adopted Monday with cuts and rearrangements made to accommodate the tax reduction.

The county will reduce its overall mill rate, which is part of property tax calculations, from 15.093 mills to 11.335 mills.

School District 51 adopted its mill rate Wednesday. The total mills for the district will be reduced by 1.905 mills next year to 34.266 mills. That means lower property taxes for people living in the county and school district boundaries.

Mesa County has pushed for five years to convince the Colorado Legislature to eliminate the business personal property tax, Meis said.

Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, sat on the interim business personal property tax task force at the Capitol this year and heard from several business owners either taken by surprise by the tax or how much it cost. A beer brewer in Boulder told the committee he had to lay off two workers because his tax bill was more than $42,000.

“It’s a punitive tax,” Bradford said, adding the tax reduction in Mesa County “tells businesses from other counties to come here.”

The tax reduction will help businesses spend more on stimulating the local economy, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diane Schwenke said.

“Every dollar they don’t spend on taxes, every dollar they don’t spend on fees, is a dollar they can spend on the economy,” she said.


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