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Current News:

Council Eyes Options for Funding Fix

Post Date:07/08/2021

Littleton Funding Fix logo - squareThroughout the spring and summer, city council and the leadership team have honed-in on a set of options to alleviate Littleton’s projected annual $6.5 million revenue shortfall in its Capital Projects Fund.

Though no decision has been made, options under serious consideration involve a new tax or tax-rate increases that would require voter approval in November. On August 26, council wants to hear from citizens on the following potential solutions:

  • Increasing the retail marijuana tax rate — would generate an additional $500,000 to $1 million per year
  • Instituting a new lodging tax — charging hotel patrons and short-term rental guests a new tax that could generate up to $1 million per year
  • Increasing the sales tax rate by 0.5% — a half-percent increase would generate an average of $6.5 million per year and cost an additional $0.50 on a $100 purchase
  • Increasing the sales tax rate by 0.75% — a three-quarter percent increase would generate an average of $10 million per year and cost an additional $0.75 on a $100 purchase

The notion of closing the Bemis Public Library and the Littleton Museum illustrated the depth of the problem during a 10-week research and community engagement effort, but both Mayor Jerry Valdes and City Manager Mark Relph have said closing treasured community assets like the library and museum do not represent a reasonable or realistic solution.

“We’d be gutting a lot of the culture of this community,” Relph said at a June 30 Telephone Town Hall meeting in response to citizen questions and concerns.

This scenario creates a savings of only about $4.2 million in the General Fund while the city needs $6.5 million of new revenue annually to feed the Capital Projects Fund — which will be depleted by 2025 without intervention.

The discussion about these options is all part of the education process for both citizens and city council members, who will need to decide in late August whether to place a question, or more than one question, on the ballot this November.

A late spring poll of 300 likely voters demonstrated support for a retail marijuana tax rate increase, a new lodging tax, and the half-percent sales tax rate increase. However, the poll also found that awareness of the problem facing the city is low.

Since then, the city launched a dedicated web page that houses answers to frequently asked questions and a four-page fact sheet, a version of which was mailed to nearly 26,000 Littleton households and businesses in mid-July.

The city’s revenue crisis was the topic of this year’s State of the City breakfast — a gathering of over 120 business and civic leaders.

More than 330 citizens attended the June Telephone Town Hall and many people have submitted feedback through a dedicated email, fundingfix@littletongov.org. Information is being shared via social media, traditional media, and The Littleton Report — both the print and online editions. Littleton Report Online is emailed to subscribers every week. Subscribe get the latest city news and event information.

If city council moves to introduce ballot language for one or more of the four proposed options, it would occur during the regular meeting on Tuesday, August 17. A special meeting and public hearing would then be held on Thursday, August 26. Information on city council meetings, including agendas and information on how to watch or participate, is available online.

For additional information, visit LittletonFundingFix.org.


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