Public Hearings to be Held September 4, 2018
Proposing Placing Two Tax Extension Questions on This Year’s November Election Ballot
What will Greeley look like in 20 years? What will the roads, parks and buildings all look like in 20 years? How big will the city be by then? How many people will live here? And over the span of these 20 years what will The City of Greeley need to build to meet the needs of both the City and its residents?
These are all questions the City and residents have been facing over the last year as both discussed whether or not the City should propose two questions about sales and use tax extensions to voters in this year’s November election.In January, the City fielded a group of residents to form a citizen committee. The purpose of this committee was to provide feedback and offer recommendations on both of the proposed tax extensions. This committee was called the Citizens’ Capital Facilities Committee and residents were informed about the creation of this committee through City outreach. The committee consisted of 33 individuals, and an average of 22 showed up at meetings. The committee first met each Monday, but then over time the committee began to meet every other Monday.
Now, at the next Greeley City Council meeting councilmembers will be voting on whether or not the City should place the two questions about tax extensions on this November’s election ballot. If Greeley City Council approves proposing the two questions, Greeley voters will decide in November whether or not to allow the City to extend both the Quality of Life Tax and the Public Safety Bond Sales Tax another 20 years each.
The Quality of Life Tax was first approved by Greeley voters in 2002 and came with a well-defined purpose. That purpose was to build various parks, construct recreation centers and make some improvements throughout Greeley. The tax is a .30% tax, meaning for every $100 anyone spends in Greeley 30 cents goes towards this tax. It is estimated that this tax will generate a total of no less than $6,280,498 in 2018. The tax officially ends in 2022, so if it’s extended another 20 years it will be around until the year 2042.
The Quality of Life Tax was used to build the Ice Haus, the FunPlex (the combined cost of the Ice Haus and FunPlex was $33.1 million), the Twin Rivers Baseball Complex, make a number of playground improvements and pay towards Greeley’s “shared experience” with School District 6 for renovations to sports fields. A small portion of the Quality of Life Tax also goes towards paying for the upkeep on some of these City facilities, including maintenance and custodial crews ($200,000).
The Citizens’ Capital Facilities Committee had one major recommendation when it came to the Quality of Life Tax: expand the definition of Quality of Life to include transportation, economic development and City facilities. Now, if the Quality of Life Tax is extended it will consist of paying for parks, recreation centers, transportation, economic development and City facilities.
Money from the Quality of Life Tax would be used to build parks (an estimated $12 million), invest in Island Grove (an estimated $3.6 million) and make improvements to the O Street corridor, 83rdAvenue and 20thStreet between 90thand 93rdAvenue. The biggest projects the tax could go towards would be the installation of two interchanges along Highway 34, one between 35thAvenue and 47thAvenue and the other between 47thAvenue and 63rdAvenue (the cost of each interchange would come out to $15 million minimum.) Money from the tax could also be used to improve or build additional roads, but only if the City has money left over and residents are involved in approving such uses.
An important fact to note is that the actual price tag of the interchanges is $30 million apiece. Greeley has estimated only $15 million apiece because the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is confident they could come in and split the costs with the City. That is part of the reason why the City would want to assure that this tax revenue will exist into the future. The sooner the City knows this revenue will be coming in far into the future, the sooner it can get started on building big projects like the two interchanges. Highway 34 and 35thAvenue along with Highway 34 and 47thAvenue are considered two of the most dangerous intersections in the state. This very real, very serious safety factor combined with the offer from CDOT are both reasons why the City would want to shore up this tax. In the long-run, the tax would save lives and save money, as having more money upfront and also having a partner to match 50-50 would save tons of dollars down the road.
Now, let us look at what the Public Safety Bond Sales Tax has contributed to in its first 20 years of existence and what the City plans to use it for over the course of the next 20 years if approved by voters in November. The Public Safety Bond Sales Tax was first approved by Greeley voters in 2004 and also came with a well-defined purpose. That purpose was to build the Greeley Police Department station on West 10thStreet.
The tax is a .16% tax, meaning for every $100 anyone spends in Greeley 16 cents goes towards this tax. It is estimated that this tax will produce a total of no less than $3,062,053 in 2018. The estimated total that this tax will have generated between 2004-2024 is $52 million. The tax officially ends in 2024, so if extended another 20 years the tax will be in around until 2044.
Though The Public Safety Bond Sales Tax was used to build the police station on West 10thStreet ($36 million), also remodel the former police station ($3.6 million), pay operating costs ($5.5M) and other small improvements ($5m). The City believes the police station will remain an adequate facility for at least another decade as it was constructed to be large enough to meet future needs. A small annual portion of the Public Safety Bond Sales Tax also goes towards covering the costs of maintenance and custodial needs at the police station ($200,000).
The Citizens’ Capital Facilities Committee supported the extension of the Public Safety Bond Sales Tax without any major recommendations for changes.
If extended, the main use for this tax would be to build a seventh fire station in west Greeley. As the City grows, having a new fire station in west Greeley becomes more and more important if the City wishes to maintain acceptable fire response times across the city. Eventually, the City will need an eighth fire station out west as well, but this tax would only be paying for the first. Also concerning public safety, the City would like to rebuild and reorient Fire Station 2 on 23rdAvenue and Reservoir Road. Built in 1958, the station is the second oldest City facility in Greeley. Aside from its being aged, the fact that their fire trucks must exit onto 23rdAvenue has long caused the fire fighters at this station problems with response. The City would like to build a new facility on the same property, but switch the design of this building around so that fire trucks exit along Reservoir Road.
Money from this tax could also legally be used to pay for certain staffing positions (such as the fire fighters who will eventually fill Fire Station 7). And it would be up to Greeley City Council in deciding next year’s budget whether or not funds from this tax would be used to pay for a police body camera program.
At the Greeley City Council meeting on September 4th, 2018, the Council will be asked to vote on whether or not to approve placing two questions on this year’s November election ballot: shall the City expand the definition of and extend for another 20 years the Quality of Life Tax? And, shall the City extend for another 20 years the Public Safety Bond Sales Tax?