monte vista — Rain Brews tavern hosted members of Monte Vista City council last Wednesday as they shared information about the One Cent Project fund. The meeting was a chance for community members to ask questions and learn more about the proposed sales tax change. Mayor Dale Becker and Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala shared with those who came to discuss the sales tax project.
The one cent project fund is a proposal to raise the current sales tax in Monte Vista by one penny. The city is hopeful this small increase will have huge impacts. The funds raised by the sales tax would be used to fund three specific departments: Ski-Hi, public works and the police department.
Forty percent of the revenue would go to Ski-Hi to help with maintaining the facility. They hope this will help keep costs to community users low. Currently there is a citizen committee (Friends of Ski-Hi Park) which is working on planning and funding a replacement for the existing multipurpose building. These plans would include demolishing the old buildings. Part of the revenue from the one cent tax would be utilized to help this project happen and make sure that city recreation priorities can be part of the building project. If the new building is not constructed, funds raised by the one cent tax would be used to make the best possible improvements to the existing buildings.
Thirty-five percent of the revenue would go to public works to maintain and repair the streets in Monte Vista. They would also like to pave the dirt roads in town. By paving the roads, they hope to eliminate the need for weekly grading and applying a dust repressant. Paving will also reduce the dust in homes in the neighborhoods and will reduce wear and tear on vehicles. They would also like to repave some of the paved roads in town that are in poor condition. A third priority would also be to improve the drainage system throughout the city.
The 25 percent of remaining funds would go to the police department and would allow the city to hire another full time officer. The funds would also help the city to supply each officer in the department with the industry’s standard safety equipment.
A citizen one cent oversight committee would also be established to prioritize one cent tax projects funded for the City of Monte Vista. They hope this will foster community input, communication and involvement. The committee would be made up of one volunteer from each geographic area of Monte Vista. There would also be two at-large volunteers, and two business owners or major employers within the city, and one city council member. They want to have 100 percent transparency.
“It’s not going to be just the city that’s involved and controlling the money. It’s actually going to be a group of citizens,” said Sigala. “Who all wants just a few people making decisions? No one right? We should all get together and make some decisions together. That’s what the committee is about. It’s trying to let the whole town be the voice of this moving forward.”
During the presentation, a slide of the new sales tax rate was shown compared with the sales tax rate in other nearby towns. The one cent increase would bump the sales tax to 8.5 percent which is very similar to the sales tax in other towns like Alamosa and Center. With such a small increase they think it will not be very noticeable.
The projected revenue they hope the penny increase would bring is $400,000 annually. Of the $400,000, $160,000 would go to Ski-Hi, $140,000 to public works, and $100,000 to the police department. City administrators hope as more businesses come to Monte Vista the funds will continue to grow.
During their presentation the mayors were asked what the downside to this tax would be. They told them the only downside would be if they don’t get this tax passed. If it is not passed, they fear it will impact the Ski-Hi complex and the events they offer. It will also have negative impacts on the safety and efficiency of the police department. Plus, the city will not have the funding to pave the streets.
If the proposed tax is passed it would take effect Jan. 2020. This year’s proposed budget does not include any of the funds they hope to receive if the one cent sale tax increase is passed in November. If it is passed, they will not spend any of those funds until 2021.
The city plans to host another presentation and Q&A with community members before it’s time to vote. If you have further questions about the sales tax you can also contact City Manager Forrest Neuerburg at (719) 852-2692 or email him at [email protected]