Winter Park, Fraser propose transportation sales taxes
The towns of Winter Park and Fraser have decided to take the issue of transportation funding to voters.
The Winter Park Town Council voted to put a 2 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot at its meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 18.
The Fraser Board of Trustees voted to put a 1 percent sales tax increase on its ballot Wednesday evening, Aug. 19.
If passed, both revenue streams will be funneled toward a year-round transportation system in the upper Fraser Valley.
The Winter Park Town Council announced in May that it would take over operation of the Winter Park Resort Shuttle.
The council signed a memorandum of understanding at its May 5 meeting that detailed its plans to make the shuttle a year-round transportation system.
The operating cost for the system would be around $2 million annually, said Drew Nelson, Winter Park town manager.
The system would primarily serve Winter Park because of its funding majority.
If Winter Park’s tax increase is approved, it could generate around $1.9 million per year, Nelson said.
Fraser anticipates the tax increase would generate around $400,000, said Town Manager Jeff Durbin.
The town sales tax rate currently sits at 5 percent in Winter Park and 4 percent in Fraser.
Winter Park is also seeking around $200,000 in state and federal funding for the transportation system.
Not included in the $2 million operating cost is a capital procurement cost of around $600,000 to $700,000 per year, Nelson said. Those costs would cover the purchase of a new fleet of 18 ADA-accessible buses among other things.
Much of those costs to the community still depend on various revenue sources including state and federal grants and money from other interests, Nelson said.
The town also hopes to build a new maintenance facility, the cost of which isn’t included in current projections.
Winter Park Resort has pledged $300,000 in funding each year for 10 years, which is contingent upon the Winter Park resolution passing.
During its Aug. 19 meeting, the Fraser board was generally receptive to the idea of a sales tax increase, though opinions differed on the size of the increase.
Trustee Andy Miller said he would support an increase as high as 2 percent. Trustee Jane Mather said she was unsure about an increase as high as 1 percent and needed more information about the town’s current tax revenues and finances.
Miller also suggested implementing a grocery tax credit to take some of the sales tax burden off of families.
Winter Park still plans to have the transit contract with First Transit, the service provider, reassigned to the town before the start of ski season, Nelson said.
The resort will still maintain a contract with First Transit for certain resort specific services.
The town is also moving forward with establishing a transit advisory committee to develop a transition budget and service and operating plan, Nelson said.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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