Election 2021: Littleton voters to decide on 3/4 cent sales tax

Council voted unanimously to put sales tax question on the ballot


Littleton City Council voted unanimously Aug. 26 to ask voters to approve a 3/4-cent sales tax this November.

The sales tax is the city's answer to Littleton's $6.5 million annual revenue shortage in its Capital Projects Fund. This deficit is due to rising infrastructure maintenance and repair costs; steadily increasing capital expenditure needs; a historically low tax rate; and a lack of revenue diversity.

At the meeting, council discussed the possibility of adding a 1/2 cent or 3/4 cent sales tax question to the November ballot.

The 3/4 cent sales tax option could generate $9.8 million annually, according to a report by City Manager Mark Relph. Projects covered could be on a greater scale including major corridor improvements, intersections, grade separations and pedestrian improvements.

Projects could also include broader downtown roadway circulation improvements; a streetscape linking north to south with Main Street; safety and pedestrian improvements; and a comprehensive rebuild of roadway medians, safety improvements, landscaping and irrigation.

There is also a possibility of technology upgrades; placing overhead utility lines underground; parking and pedestrian improvements adjacent to light rail stations; improvements to High Line Canal grade crossings; and broader improvements to the Geneva Lodge, the Bemis House, Town Hall Arts Center and the Depot Art Gallery.

“We only have two major revenue sources for the capital project fund: building use tax and gas tax,” Relph said at the council meeting. “We all know that during the pandemic, when people stayed home, the gas tax decreased.”

The public hearing drew comment from 18 residents. Three were opposed to any sales tax increase, five were in favor of a 1/2 cent sales tax and five specifically supported a 3/4 cent sales tax.

Some public commenters supported forward-looking thinking, while others urged council to look at other alternatives.

During council discussion, Councilmembers Kelly Milliman and Carol Fey spoke in favor of the 1/2 cent sales tax.

“I like the idea of spending exactly what you need to spend and not spending more than you need to,” Fey said.

During the council vote to move forward with the 3/4 sales tax ballot question, Milliman and Fey originally voted against it. However, they requested a revote and on the second vote, council was unanimous in voting to move the 3/4 sales tax question forward to the November ballot.

“At this point, I really want to more than just try to catch up,” said Littleton Mayor Jerry Valdes. “I want to catch up and get ahead.”


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