The county has set a possible tax increase hearing for Dec. 4, which will open the floor for Grand County residents to give input on the idea of a possible property tax increase. The notice of the hearing, which is also known as a ‘Truth in Taxation’ hearing, passed four to one, with Council Member Rory Paxman in opposition. Council Member Curtis Wells attempted to call into the meeting, but was not present during the vote due to technical difficulties.
“We’re getting close to narrowing down on what the bottom line would be with the salary adjustment. For the general fund specifically, I’m showing a deficit today of about $890,000,” said County Budget Officer Chris Baird. He added that that deficit could increase depending on how the county allocates money to special service districts like the Emergency Medical Services Special Service District.
The salary adjustment Baird referred to had been a topic of discussion among council members since last year’s budget process.
“We’re seeing quite a lot of inefficiency in the organization now with overtime and turnover and retention problems,” Baird said. “Some departments have gotten to the point where they’re almost entirely dysfunctional for lack of staff, or intermittently dysfunctional. That almost entirely revolves around the wage issue so I would say that the salary adjustment is really the sole reason why I would ask that you initiate a truth in taxation hearing … I do think that the salary increase is a vital component of moving around inefficiency so I think that maintaining all of our options is a good idea.”
Baird emphasized that setting a date for the tax hearing does not mean the county has to raise taxes. “It doesn’t obligate you to do it, to increase taxes, but it’s certainly in my opinion an option that you should keep open just because the implications of not being able to approve or fund the salary adjustment are pretty severe,” Baird said.
Council Member Evan Clapper moved to approve the noticing of the possible tax increase hearing “with the idea of us, the council, having the option to adjust the rate for 2019 and to hold a truth in taxation hearing where citizens can actually come and speak during the hearing … I think it’s very irresponsible not to have it as an option.”
“This doesn’t obligate us to raise taxes,” added Council Member Jaylyn Hawks. “I know that there is the concern of public perception. Once you notice this, they’re going to think it’s a done deal. In this day and age with all the social media and big newspaper ads, I think that we can mitigate for a lot of that if we work through the options and find that we don’t need to do this tax increase but in order to maintain the option to do that if we have to, that’s why we’re talking about voting today.”