Mayor vetoes sales tax question

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Wheat Ridge Mayor Jerry DiTullio on Aug. 30 vetoed an ordinance that sought to place a 1 percent sales and use tax hike question on the November ballot, calling the proposal a “recipe for disaster.”

The mayor’s veto came days after the council voting 6-2 earlier in the week to move forward with the ballot measure, which, if voters approved, would have pumped more than $6 million in revenue into city capital improvement projects.

The mayor’s veto did not officially spell the end for the measure. The council had the opportunity to override the veto this week, in order to submit the ballot language to the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by Friday — the deadline to get the initiative on the ballot this fall.

It was unknown by Colorado Community Media’s print deadline whether the council had intended on attempting to override DiTullio’s veto this week.

If passed, the ballot measure would have raised Wheat Ridge’s sales and use tax from 3 to 4 percent — the highest among neighboring communities. The tax would have equalled a one penny increase on every dollar spent.

The majority of the council voted in favor of putting the measure on the ballot, arguing that the city could use additional money to fund improvements around the city.

But DiTullio said in his veto to council members that the ballot measure comes at a bad time.

He said that the ballot measure would lead to a 33 percent increase on sales taxes for Wheat Ridge residents, at a time that they cannot afford.

“Now is not the time to ask the voters for more money with a blank check,” DiTullio said in his veto.

DiTullio also pointed out that the two council members who voted against the tax hike — Mike Stites and Joyce Jay — are also running for mayor this fall, “which indicates that (the) council is not united on this issue.”

Proponents of the tax hike argue that much of the revenue will come from visitors to Wheat Ridge and that the tax hike is offset by the city’s low property taxes.

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