Hot Sulphur Springs officials optimistically await final vote count
November 4, 2009
By Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
A $30,000 boost to Hot Sulphur Springs’ general fund for street improvements hangs in the balance with Measure 2A preliminarily at 105 ‘yes’ votes to 102 ‘no’ votes.
But 28 outstanding votes could alter that result, according to the Grand County clerk and recorder’s office. Those votes are expected to be counted by Nov. 12, after voter signatures are verified.
“We’re reserved and optimistic,” said Hot Sulphur Springs administrator Sandy White on Wednesday.
“We are just waiting to see what official results are.”
Both Hot Sulphur Springs ballot measures were defeated last year, but look promising this year.
With town water rates hiked to the chagrin of commercial property owners and an aging street infrastructure on the back burner as the town’s water-system is overhauled, citizens had approached the town about putting the property tax questions back on the ballot, according to town officials.
Board members helped to spread the word about the returning ballot questions by distributing fliers and sending out e-mails.
“It was really close last year, so it doesn’t really surprise me that it was this close again,” White said about the ballot question that would add 3 mills to the town’s property-tax levy.
Although that increase in property taxes is not yet decided, the town’s ability to keep revenues in excess of TABOR limits has been.
Voters passed measure 2B 125-82 vote to suspend TABOR limitations on revenue for a period of 10 years, until 2020.
If property values increase so much that property taxes exceed the 5.5 percent of what the town’s revenues were the year prior, the town won’t have to ratchet down its existing mill levy, which now is 8.95 mills.
Last year, the town asked voters to allow the town to keep $20,000 it inadvertently kept from exceeding the 5.5 percent rule. Citizens voted it down, and the town was forced to refund the $20,000 by ratcheting down its mill levy. That meant $20,000 less in the town’s 2009 general fund.
Hot Sulphur Springs’ 2010 draft budget reflects $20,000 set aside for snow removal, with half dedicated to a snow-removal salary, according to White.
If the 3-mill increase sticks, around $30,000 would be generated to stretch the streets budget, dedicated to street repairs and signage.
And if that measure fails? “Street repairs would be on hold,” White said.
“Win or lose, we just have to keep working really hard to make sure we get the best value for the taxpayer’s dollar,” said Hot Sulphur Mayor Hershal Deputy.
Since the vote came in so close, he said, “We have our work cut out for us to show people that we really are doing what’s best for the town.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.