It’s official: La Plata County voters will be asked for a second time to consider a property tax increase for road and bridge construction and maintenance.
On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously voted to place a measure on the November ballot to increase property taxes by up to 2.4 mills, which voters rejected last year by a 4 percent margin.
But the advancing age of road infrastructure coupled with the decline in natural gas production revenue ultimately caused the belabored ballot question to clear the board again.
For the first time in decades, residential property tax revenue is expected to exceed oil and gas property taxes in the county.
“I believe safe roads are important to all of us to get to work, grocery shop, take our kids to school and, most importantly, get emergency vehicles where they need to be,” Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said Tuesday. “We would not be doing this if it were not necessary.”
The suggested increase, which would sunset in 10 years, would mean an additional $76 paid in annual property taxes for an owner of a $400,000 home.
The proposal could pull in as much as $4.5 million in additional revenue in 2017.
Commissioners said the issue has underscored the importance of diversifying a local economy that for 30 years has depended on the extractive resource industry.