Berthoud voters weigh in regarding excess sales tax revenue on April ballot
By Rudy Hemmann
A new municipal law firm, Denver based Norton & Smith P.C., was named to replace the law firm of Bell, Gould & Scott P.C. which had been acting as the town’s municipal attorney for the past several years.
A resolution formalizing the changeover was approved unanimously by the board. Erin Smith, representing her firm, informed the board that, at least for the time being, the town retains Bell, Gould & Scott to serve the town’s municipal court needs. A separate resolution retaining the services of Bell, Gould & Scott also passed unanimously.
The trustees established a Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. An information sheet provided by town staff states: “As part of the comprehensive plan process, staff and the consultant are recommending the creation of a steering committee to help guide the plan through its 18-month public process. The steering committee will meet roughly every other month, to provide guidance for each step of the comprehensive plan and provide vision for future steps. The meetings will be held in the morning (7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.), with breakfast provided.
Staff and the consultant are both recommending a smaller more efficient working committee made up of three board members and two planning commission members, with an alternate. The staff comprised of the town administrator, community development director, and planner I will also be part of the committee. The planning commission is holding a special meeting Monday, Feb. 10, to select two members, and one alternate due to an abundance of interest of the entire commission to serve. “Staff would like to note, the (town) board and planning commission will be heavily involved, and regular meetings regarding the comprehensive plan will be held, should any member not serve on the steering committee.”
The trustees considered options for filling the board seat left empty by the resignation of Pete Tomassi. Following a brief discussion, the trustees appointed Kelsey Byron to fill the vacancy until the April 2020 Municipal election.
On Nov. 6, 2018, Berthoud voters approved a 1% Sales Tax specifically dedicated to: Expanding and improving the existing Town trail system; Renovating or replacing existing aquatics facilities; Developing, constructing and equipping a recreation center and related facilities; Developing, constructing and equipping athletic fields; and Constructing, acquiring, equipping, and operating park and recreation improvements. As required in the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), an estimated sales tax revenue increase of $1,400,000 for fiscal year 2019 was included in the approved 2018 ballot language. Since that time, unforeseen changes to Berthoud’s sales taxes resulted in the Town collecting just under $1.8 million in the fund approved by voters in 2018. These changes were driven by State changes to online retail sales tax collection, new businesses, and increased sales taxes resulting from a growing population.
According to Subsection (3)(c) of Article X, Section 20 of TABOR, “Except by later voter approval, if a tax increase or fiscal year spending exceeds any estimate [set forth in the ballot question authorizing such tax increase] for the same fiscal year, the tax increase is thereafter reduced up to 100% in proportion to the combined dollar excess, and the combined excess refunded in the next fiscal year.”
In other words, the amount collected in excess to the 1.4 million may not be spent by the town without voter approval.
For that reason the following ordinance will be on the ballot for the municipal election which will be held in April.
AN ORDINANCE OF THE TOWN OF BERTHOUD, COLORADO CALLING AN ELECTION ON APRIL 7, 2020, AND CERTIFYING BALLOT ISSUES TO ASK VOTERS WHETHER THE TOWN CAN RETAIN SALES AND USE TAX REVENUE COLLECTED IN 2019 IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT SHOWN ON THE 2018 BALLOT ISSUE AND MAINTAIN THE EXISTING SALES AND USE TAX RATE OF 4.0%; SETTING THE BALLOT TITLE AND CONTENT FOR THE BALLOT ISSUE; PROVIDING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ORDINANCE AND SETTING FORTH DETAILS IN RELATION THERETO.
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