Carbondale voters will consider two tax increases this spring. One would be on some utilities, the other would raise property taxes.
Let’s start with the energy tax. If passed, the measure would mean paying more when you fire up your gas range or use a microwave. “The idea is that a small fee would be assessed on your utility bill,” says Katharine Rushton, “both on your gas use and on your electricity use.” Rushton is part of the campaign advocating for that tax increase.
Rushton says it would mean about three to five dollars a month in taxes for the average homeowner. That’s for electricity and gas combined adding up to between $36 and $60 a year, “to really generate some funds to be able to continue programs that Carbondale have been running in the last few years. Carbondale has been really successful in reducing our consumption of electricity and natural gas despite a growing population, and it’s due to these programs.”
If approved, the new tax question would have some administrative costs. Utility providers are still figuring out how much that could be. The measure would raise more than $350,000 in revenue each year. Funding for those energy programs so far has come from taxes on oil and gas drilling and other production, but those dollars are going down for a variety of reasons.
That drop is also affecting the amount of money available to improve or build new infrastructure in Carbondale. “The town does not have any dedicated funding source for capital for the Town of Carbondale,” says Town Manager Jay Harrington, “outside of our water and sewer funds.”
If approved, that second tax measure would mean about $120 a year more in property taxes for someone owning a home valued at half a million dollars. For a commercial property worth a $1 million, it would add up to about $870 more in taxes. That could go towards a long list of issues, like improving intersections, building new sidewalks and maintaining Highway 133.
Both tax questions come after voters approved two other property tax increases last fall, for schools and Carbondale’s fire district. Carbondale is gathering arguments for and against both spring tax measures, which will be sent out to voters before the April election.