2021 Election, Elections, Exclusives, Krista Kafer, Littleton, Local, TABOR, Taxes

Competitive city council races, sales tax hike make for busy election season in Littleton

LITTLETON–Local politics in Littleton are in full swing as nine candidates prepare campaigns for four openings on the city council, including mayor, while a heavily debated city sales tax increase will appear on the November ballot.

For months, the south metro-Denver municipality has discussed increasing the sales tax rate in order to face a $6.5 million revenue shortage in the Capital Projects Fund, which covers the costs of road and building maintenance and other citywide infrastructure improvements. The fund is projected to be depleted in four years, sparking members to take action.

Two proposed tax hikes have been on the table, a 0.5 percent sales tax increase, which would be an additional 50 cents on a $100 purchase and generate the city a projected $6.5 million in additional revenue annually. The other option a 0.75 percent rate hike, costing shoppers an extra 75 cents per $100 spent and generating the city about $10 million annually in extra revenue. The city currently has a 3 percent sales tax rate.

At a special meeting last Thursday, city council unanimously referred the higher 0.75 percent increase to the November ballot. Over a dozen residents weighed in on the proposals, with a majority favoring more revenue for infrastructure, but with opinions split on whether the city should tax residents just enough to get by or allow for leeway with the higher tax.

Paul Bingham, a registered Democrat who is running for city council is also behind an issue committee, Vote YES for Littleton, registered in July in support of the tax hike.

In terms of other council candidates on the ballot, the mayor will be determined directly by the voters this election, a position previously chosen among elected council members because of the mayor’s equal powers. The races are considered nonpartisan and each representative has their own key campaign issues.

Kyle Schlachter, a registered Democrat, Jon Buck and Carol Fey, who are both registered as unaffiliated voters according to voter records, are all campaigning for the mayoral position. Fey currently represents the third district on the council, which expires this year.

The two candidates seeking to win the city’s open at-large seat are Krista Kafer and opponent Gretchen Rydin. Kafer was among several candidates who spoke at the special meeting last week and encouraged the council to move forward with the lower tax increase to be sensitive to individuals and businesses struggling.

“I’ve only voted for a tax increase once…. I really feel like they’ve made a strong case for it, they haven’t raised sales tax in 50 years,” Kafer told Complete Colorado, adding that fiscal responsibility is a necessity.

According to Kafer, who is also a Denver Post columnist, her priorities in order to keep the city thriving include livability, security and opportunity and she remains focused on keeping the city a safe, clean alternative to Denver.

“I’m frustrated by the increase in vagrant camps for example, and I don’t want more money going to address things like urban camping. I want people who want to camp in urban cities to move on. We have a lot of services already, city and private, for people who want to improve their lives and get back on their feet,” she said in opposition to urban camping in Littleton.

Covering the northwest part of the city in District 1, Candice Ferguson, a registered Democrat, will challenge incumbent Patrick Driscoll, a registered Republican. Paul Bingham, who is behind the sales tax issue committee, is up against unaffiliated resident Stephen Barr in District 3.

Mail-in ballots will begin being dropping in mid-October for the Nov. 2 election.

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