Grand Lake Board of Trustees change use tax policy, discuss marijuana ballot measure

Sunlight highlights the sign at Grand Lake Town Hall in this 2020 file photo. The town's board of trustees meets every second and fourth Monday of the month.
Robert Mendoza/Sky-Hi News archive

The Grand Lake Board of Trustees approved a resolution to change the town’s use tax policy, approved five liquor licenses and permits, discussed specifics of their marijuana legalization ballot measure and talked about refunding use tax for developments with affordable housing.

The board discussed changes to the use tax policy at the July 11 meeting, and Town Treasurer Heike Wilson presented those changes Monday. The revisions allow developers to go through the Colorado Department of Revenue to get a refund if they are double-taxed with sales tax and use tax.

Developer Jim Kreutzer commented on the policy, asking the board to change a requirement that developers submit evidence of their purchases within 30 days of submitting a certificate of occupancy. The board passed the resolution with an adjustment to increase that timeframe from 30 to 90 days.

Kreutzer came back in front of the board for the next agenda item, which involved a consideration to waive fees for his Portal Crossing development. He brought the issue up during the public comment section of the July 11 board meeting, but when the board got to the item Monday, Town Attorney Scotty Krob said part of the issue had been settled.

“I think we’ve got the attainable housing fee resolved,” Krob said. “By providing the (Local Employee Residence Program) units, our opinion is that he’s satisfied the attainable housing obligation for the entire development.”

The board had a previous agreement with Kreutzer to waive affordable housing fees on his development and allow him to pay his use tax when he submitted a certificate of occupation instead of when he received building permits. Krob said Kreutzer made it seem like the agreement would refund the project’s use tax when he spoke at the last board meeting by only reading part of the agreement. 

Kreutzer agreed and clarified the issue he had at the last meeting.

“I didn’t stand up here and read the whole paragraph,” Kreutzer said. “I understand that. But every building permit fee charge that I got from the county has all of the use taxes on it to pick up my permit.”

The county wanted to charge use tax and affordable housing fees when Kreutzer tried to get his permits, he said. Through communications between Kreutzer, the county and Grand Lake, the problem had been solved for at least one of his permits but not for two others.

During the discussion, Kreutzer asked for what the town thought he had asked for two weeks prior — a use tax refund on his entire project. Kreutzer argued the refund would act as a benefit for the inclusion of six affordable housing units in the project and help him lose less money on selling six units for $310,000 each, which he said is slightly higher than the affordable price for the average median income in the area.

The trustees discussed the possibility of refunding Kreutzer’s use tax — something that can be refunded but not waived because a waiver would open Kreutzer up to sales tax. They considered the benefit of attracting more developers to build affordable housing with the benefit, the financial impact it would have on the town’s tax revenue and the precedent it would set for future projects. The board made no decision, with Trustee Mike Arntson suggesting they discuss the topic further at the board’s August retreat.

Marijuana ballot question

Krob spoke to the board about what specifics they want to include in the ballot measure the town is preparing to legalize marijuana sales in Grand Lake. The trustees supported medical and recreational marijuana, taxing 5-15%, splitting the tax funds evenly between the general fund and affordable housing, using a merit-based lottery system to award one to two permits and allowing retail dispensaries.

Trustees discussed location limitations, focusing on keeping dispensaries out of residential areas and the central business district.

Other business:

  • Sulphur District Ranger Eric Freels talked to the board about issues related to the National Forest, including off-highway vehicle trail restoration, closures around Stillwater Creek, the Sulphur District office and more.
  • Rachel Scarborough from Mundus Bishop presented the municipal lands master plan her company put together for the town. Scarborough said the company is looking for ways to implement their plan, which involves ways to improve areas like Lakeside Park and Veterans Park. Mundus Bishop will finalize the plan this fall.
  • Gayle Langley from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs spoke to the board about the Main Street: Open for Business grant program, which closed June 30 and completed 23 projects in Grand Lake. 
  • Town Manager John Crone gave updates of topics including new sand for the beach that should arrive this week, upcoming events like Buffalo Days from Aug. 19-21, boats the town is selling at the marina, an upcoming online system for paying water bills, new state funding intended for the creative district and more.
  • Resident Jim Cervenka spoke during public comments about confusion over the naming of the Grand Lake Center and Grand Lake Community House caused by the use of the term “Grand Lake Community Center,” which does not exist.
  • Also during public comment, resident Kyle Masterson told the trustees about a delay in construction on his property and resident David Raffaelli expressed concerns about dwindling permanent residency in the town.
  • The board approved the accounts payable for July 25.
  • Wilson presented the June financial and May sales tax reports to the board.
  • The board approved liquor licenses for two new restaurants, Not-Cho Mamas and Firefly Pizzeria, as well as special event liquor permits for three events — the Grand Arts Council’s Bluegrass Concert on July 30, the Grand Lake Area Historical Society’s community picnic August 14 and the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s Buffalo Days on Aug. 19-21.
  • Kudron talked about spending time with Rocky Mountain National Park leadership, where he learned about the park’s plans to preserve and restore the Kawuneeche Valley during his mayor’s update. He also mentioned tree removal, marina revenue and more.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.