Many citizens oppose new Grand Lake municipal fee
A new Grand Lake municipal fee has made the New Year not so happy for some area residents.
The new fee, approved along with the town’s comprehensive 2018 budget back in late November, will be assessed on “each residential dwelling unit and each commercial facility,” according to a letter sent to citizens by Grand Lake Mayor Jim Peterson.
Grand Lake Town Manger Jim White said local citizens can expect to pay just under $100 for the fee over the course of the year. The letter from Peterson stated that the fee will be billed at a rate of either $23.82 quarterly or $7.94 per month, totalling $95.28. The fee went into effect on New Year’s Day. White said there is a separate, lower fee, which will be assessed on non-profit organizations.
Jay Young, a resident of Grand Lake, said he was less than thrilled with the move, which he called “a very unfair tax.”
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“They are collecting $80,000 that they didn’t collect last year,” Young told Sky-Hi News. “Why are we $80,000 short? Why are they assessing a municipal fee for something that was paid for in sales taxes last year? Why are they taking money out of the people? Why not take it out of reserves.”
Young also highlighted his belief that town officials sought additional revenues through municipal fees rather than as a new tax to avoid issues related to TABOR.
“This is a classic example of what they can get by with,” Young alleged. “It is a fee not a tax so you don’t have to take it to a vote.”
For their part, town officials put the new fee in context of broad revenue concerns for the town.
“The purpose (of the fee) is to bolster the general fund,” White said. “We attributed this particular year to helping defray the costs of our Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch contract, and to help with utility lighting.”
The town expects the new municipal fee to raise $79,650 in additional revenue over the coming year. White said the new revenues will not cover all costs related to the Sheriff’s Office or emergency dispatch service or the town’s lighting needs — Grand Lake’s Sheriff’s Office contract alone totals just shy of $134,000 this year — but would help defray expenses.
White went on to explain that the board chose to attribute the funds to what he called town-wide expenses and that emergency response and lighting were deemed to be town-wide expenses.
“We discussed it in budget planning meetings and the board approved the budget, with the fee in it, in late November,” White said.
Not all members of the town’s board, however, approved of the new fee.
Grand Lake Trustee Tom Goodfellow expressed his opposition by saying he did not think the appropriate “homework” was done before the town voted to approve the measure.
According to White, the fee will be reconsidered on a year-to-year basis and future boards will have to reapprove the fee for it to continue in coming years.
“Hopefully it won’t be a one-year thing,” White said.
If future town boards do chose to approve the fee, White said they may also chose to apply those funds to other town-wide expenses instead of the current list and highlighted boardwalk maintenance costs as another potential town-wide expense where the funds could be applied.
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