At the municipal election in April, the City of Burlington will be asking voters to approve a ballot measure to increase the city sales tax by 1% in order to fund critical street repair and maintenance.
If approved, the increase in the sales tax would be used for the support of:
Constructing, maintaining, rebuilding and improving streets and alleys, including pedestrian, biking, utility and drainage improvements and equipment needed to begin the process.
When asked the question, “If this increase is approved, will it be totally used each year for the streets?”, City Administrator Jim Keehne said, “Absolutely! All of the funds generated by a 1% increase will be set aside each year and used totally for the streets.
“The language on the ballot measure locks the money in place. It would be illegal to use it in any other way.”
The city has garnered feedback from residents and businesses on the proposed 1% sales tax increase. One of the questions posed was “How was a 1% sales tax determined, and how would the tax dollars be spent?”
Keehne said “100% of the money collected, which is estimated to be $700,000 annually, would be allocated to fixing our streets.
“The city has approximately 31.5 miles of paved streets within its boundaries. Most of our streets are in poor to decent condition, all in need of some repair and ongoing maintenance.
“Installing a new curb and gutter and a two-inch asphalt overlay on 31.5 miles costs (in today’s dollars) in excess of $37,000,000, if done all at one time.”
The city administrator continued, “A funding needs analysis estimates the need of an additional $1,000,000 each year to keep our roads at an acceptable level, and at the same time, to maintain alleys, and provide curb and gutter and drainage.”
Why a sales tax increase?
A sales tax is paid for by residents and visitors. Both groups benefit from improved streets. An increase in property tax affects only property tax owners.,
Burlington has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. The levy is only 8.6 mills and it has been that for at least the past 45 years.
Breaking down what the city collects in property taxes illustrates that if you are presently paying $1,000 in property taxes when you sit down and write a check to the Kit Carson County Treasurer, the city will receive only $86 of that $1,000 check you just wrote.
The remaining balance goes to the school district, the county, the hospital district, the cemetery district and the fire district.
Keehne concluded by saying, “We all realize the condition of our streets. It is imperative that we get additional revenue to make so many much-needed improvements.”
Approving a sales tax increase will take care of that over the years.