Opinion: Dave Larison – Anti-tax mood downed Issue 3B

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There’s a famous line at the end of the original King Kong movie – “Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.” I submit it wasn’t the idea of a new pool and ice rink that killed Issue 3B, but the proposed addition of more sales tax in Longmont including the ever-regressive sales tax on groceries.
Having followed city and county tax issues closely since moving to Longmont in 1980, I have a suggestion for City Council, one that could get a municipal facility ballot issue to pass in the future.

We all know that the most useless of sales taxes in Longmont is the 0.40% that goes toward RTD FasTracks. We’ve been paying this tax since January 2005 (Longmont has put in more than $50 million) with absolutely nothing to show for it at present or for the foreseeable future.

While I do not believe it would be feasible for Longmont to pull out of RTD completely or to sue to get our money back, I do think an all-out effort should be made by city officials to have the FasTracks sales tax terminated in Longmont. I would be delighted to see the total sales tax in Longmont lowered accordingly, but I know politicians rarely think along the lines of lowering existing taxes.

My suggestion would be a replacement 0.40% special district sales tax (but not on groceries, since neither does FasTracks) for a new dual bond issue to finance both a pool & ice rink and a performing arts center for Longmont. The financing could be split roughly 50/50 and the ballot proposal could start with the magic words “WITHOUT INCREASING TAX RATES”, a sure-fire road to voter passage. If some private money could be thrown in, all the better. 

And one more thing – the next time a multi-use public facility comes up on the ballot it would be wise for City Council to inform the voters beforehand of where the building will be located in the city, plus planned parking and traffic access. The lack of this info certainly didn’t help matters with the overwhelming defeat of Issue 3B.

Dave Larison

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