County: ‘Share the tax’

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    Staff Writer

    Archuleta County is making known that it is not in favor of a possible increase in the town’s sales tax, instead suggesting both entities should, and would have to, share any increase approved by voters this spring.

    Currently, a 2 percent sales tax levied in Archuleta County (on top of state levels) produces revenue that is divided between the county and town, with 1 percent going to the county and 1 percent going to the town.

    Now, the Town of Pagosa Springs is considering a ballot issue that, should town council approve its placement on the ballot, would increase sales tax within Pagosa Springs by one cent per dollar to fund a community recreation center.

    That increase, then, if approved by voters,would go only to the town — something county officials disagree with.

    The county believes it is entitled to 50 percent of any sales tax collected by the town based on an agreement currently in place between the two entities.

    That agreement was approved in 2008 and split the sales tax revenues evenly between the entities for the town to use on capital improvement projects and for the county to use for road capital improvement. It was approved following a ballot initiative that extended the 2 percent sales tax for the town and the county in perpetuity.

    But with a vote to increase the tax on the horizon, the county is making its position known.

    “There are existing recreation projects such as the Town-to-Lakes Trail and it seems that we should garner the public trust by finishing one project before we undertake another,” said Todd Starr, suggesting the increase is not needed. Starr is the county attorney and co-interim county administrator.

    Starr also authored a letter to town manager David Mitchem putting forward the county’s position.

    In the letter, dated Jan. 7, Starr wrote: “I am writing to express Archuleta County’s desire that the Town of Pagosa Springs not usurp the remaining available sales tax. We believe that both the Town and the County benefit from the history of sharing the sales tax. We believe that the sharing arrangement that currently exists helps foster a relationship of cooperation.

    “Affirmatively, we would like the Town to consider placing a joint issue on the ballot that would raise the sales tax and dedicate the additional revenue to Roads within the County and curb and gutters and sidewalks within the town.

    “Finally, be advised that should the Town of Pagosa Springs recognize an increase in sales tax Archuleta County is hereby asserting its right to fifty (50%) of any such revenue generated.”

    This week, town council scheduled an executive session with town attorney Bob Cole to discuss the county’s right to half of any approved sales tax increase.

    That session, which is not open to the public, is scheduled for noon tomorrow, Jan. 17.

    randi@pagosasun.com