The old adage that it’s tough to fight city hall is true, particularly when city hall does not play by the rules they created. The Lone Tree mayor and city council are proposing a massive 55% increase, 1.8% to 2.8%, in the city’s retail sales tax rate on the November ballot (Question 2E). All Lone Tree residents will pay this additional tax on in-store and online purchases. The city website and city email communications are being used to advocate for this tax increase.
In doing so, the mayor and city council are out of compliance with their own ordinance in the municipal code, Chapter 2, Article 1, Section 2-1-150 Limitations On City Contributions which states:
“(c) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as prohibiting the City from expending public moneys or making contributions to dispense a factual summary that includes arguments both for and against the proposal on any issue of official concern before the electorate in the City. Such summary shall not contain a conclusion or opinion in favor of or against any particular issue. As used herein, an issue of official concern shall be limited to issues that will appear on an election ballot in the City. ”
While using tax dollars to tout this massive sales tax increase on the website and email newsletter communications, the mayor and city council have not included the “against” arguments that are required per the city ordinance. A notice was sent to the mayor, city council and city employees that they are out of compliance and a demand made to remedy the situation by Monday, October 11, 2021.
The demand states that the “against” arguments be sent to the email distribution list of the city’s Timberlines newsletter and that the “against” arguments also be included on the website on the elections page. At this point, no response has been received from the mayor, city council nor city employees.
So, here are the “against” arguments on Lone Tree 2E the city doesn’t want you to know:
- Question 2E will increase the sales tax rate in the Lone Tree from 1.8% to 2.8%, a whopping 55% increase in the tax rate.
- Question 2E will raise Lone Tree’s lower sales tax rate and limit its’ advantage over other municipalities in attracting shoppers and diners to Lone Tree.
- The city has manufactured a $100 million deficit over the next 14 years by using a false assumption that Lone Tree will have 0% growth every year for the next 14 years…don’t fall for it!
- There is no way Lone tree will have 0% growth. The city has an upscale retail and restaurant base, and is surrounded by affluent households and growing communities.
- Lone Tree’s assumptions do not show any belt tightening on expenses.
- There are no restrictions on how the new tax money is spent – all new tax money goes to the general fund. The open space, road maintenance and public safety dedication is just a political sales pitch.
- Some people outside of Lone Tree will pay the higher tax, but ALL Lone Tree residents will definitely pay the higher tax on in-store purchases and online purchases.
- Lone Tree’s internal documents show very little lost sales tax revenue to online purchases.
- Lone Tree’s 2020 sales tax revenue declined in 2020 from the economic recession and virus lockdown, but has recovered most of that loss in 2021 and should be back on the road to revenue growth in 2022.
- Question 2E is a blatant government money grab. If approved, the 2E tax increase will deliver to city coffers more than $150 million over 10 years, which is almost $90 million more than the city’s assumed deficit in 2031 (Lone Tree assumes a deficit of $60 million in 2031).
- If the Lone Tree sales tax revenues grow a modest 3% per year, then the $100 million projected deficit goes away and instead the city has a $35 million surplus with no cuts to services or public safety.
For more information go to No Lone Tree Tax Increase.
There is much truth in the adage that all politics are local. That is why it is important that we hold local mayors, city councils and city employees accountable to ensure that we have free, fair, honest and transparent elections.
Kim Monson is a former Lone Tree City Councilmember and host of the Kim Monson Show on KLZ 560 AM.
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