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Foothills puts property-tax increase on ballot

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District says 4-mill boost need for repairs and to meet rising costs

By Ramsey Scott

Residents of the Foothills Park and Recreation District will be asked for a 4-mill property-tax increase to help the district meet a projected budget shortfall due to increased costs and much-need infrastructure repair.

The district’s Board of Directors approved the ballot question Aug. 26 for November’s election. The increase would raise taxes by $95.52 annually for $300,000 homes throughout the district; the owner of that home would pay a total of  $276.03 annually if the increase is approved.  

The current mill levy is 7.559, which does not include several special subdistricts that have additional mills to retire debt, and properties north of West Hampden Avenue that pay only the 5.179 mills toward operations and not the 2.323 mills of debt obligation. 

Foothills Executive Director Ron Hopp laid out where the estimated $3.7 million boost in annual revenue would go for 10 years during the district’s first presentation on the proposed tax hike Aug. 28, which was attended by two people. Hopp talked extensively about the efficiencies the district has put into place since voters rejected a tax increase in 2006 and 2008.

Some of the new revenue would help prevent the district's estimated budget shortfall that is set to start in 2015. By 2017, the district projects it will be short about $852,000. 

Hopp said that while facilities like the district’s two golf courses and The Edge Ice Arena make a profit, Foothills loses money on its parks and pools.  

Foothills also would use about $18.3 million of the new revenue, along with about $3 million of its current reserves, toward a needed $60 million in infrastructure and capital repairs. Those repairs include $5 million in work at Clement Park, for which Hopp said the district hoped it could obtain an additional $5 million in grants and donations. 

An additional $9.6 million would go to existing park and trail improvements. The Columbine Trail, which runs from West Bowles Avenue to Chatfield State Park, would be in line for major repairs and replacement of infrastructure.   

“This revenue would make a tremendous difference in our community and what we could accomplish,” Hopp said. “If we can improve the facilities and parks in our community, it will have a direct benefit. Property values will be increased, and the quality of life will be improved as well.”

The district will give two more presentations on the proposed tax hike, scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 18 and Oct. 14.

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check www.columbinecourier.com for updates.