Bayfield trustees review wording for proposed sales-tax increase Board vote set for Sept. 2

Bayfield town trustees reviewed ballot wording for a sales tax increase request at their Aug. 19 meeting.

Aside from date changes, the wording is the same as it was on the April 1 town election ballot, when voters rejected it by a vote of 75 no to 66 yes. November election turnout is expected to be much higher.

The town is seeking voter approval to raise the town sales tax rate from 2 percent up to 3 percent, with the additional revenue designated for street maintenance, improvements or related public works projects.

The revenue is estimated at $285,000 in the first year.

The ballot wording pledges the additional money to a street fund, which is created by an accompanying ordinance as a new category in the town budget. The ordinance includes a long list of ways the money could be used.

The ordinance is contingent on voter approval of the sales tax increase.

Town Manager Chris La May told trustees, "The biggest issues are the pledge of revenues to the street fund which is created by this ordinance, solely for street, traffic, and transportation purposes, any purpose that directly or indirectly supports this, including acquiring property or right-of-way. Funds could be used to issue and pay bonds."

He cited concerns from an earlier community presentation about wording that says "improvements of any kind." He said, "It still has to be for street or transportation purposes. ... If I read the initial sentence that it shall be used solely for... then later it says improvements of any kind, to me that's related to streets, traffic, or transportation."

Town attorney Jeff Robbins agreed. "The initial sentence controls all the rest of it," he said.

Trustees generally agreed to have La May bring the ordinance and ballot wording for formal action on Sept. 2. Then the ballot wording will be submitted to the County Clerk to put on the November ballot.

Mayor Rick Smith commented, "Once the ordinance is approved, we are tied in what we can and can't say" about the proposal.

Ignacio town trustees also are moving toward a similar sales tax increase request for similar purposes.