City and school district officials likely won’t decide how revenues from a 0.3 percent tax increase will be distributed until after it goes into effect on Jan. 1.
That’s because the city, which is collecting the tax, and Aspen School District officials still need to outline the terms of an intergovernmental agreement, which will determine details on the revenue’s dispersal. That process could take anywhere between one to two months, according to City Attorney Jim True.
On Tuesday, voters passed ballot measure 2B, which is aimed at compensating for state budget cuts to Aspen’s public schools. The tax is projected to raise $1.75 million annually and the increase will bring the city’s sales tax to 9.4 percent in 2013. It will sunset after four years, unless voters choose to renew it. The ballot question also created a seven-member board that will be responsible for distributing the funds to the schools on a per-request basis by schools superintendent John Maloy.
Officials originally decided not to draft the agreement because they wanted to make sure the measure was going to pass first, True said. Now that it has, the agreement’s details need to be clarified as soon as possible, before the tax’s first collection in early February, True said.
Those details include how the board will determine which requests qualify for funding, how members of the new board will be replaced if they resign and how often the board meets to distribute funds, True said. There will likely be a point in the process for the public to provide input when the agreement goes to Aspen City Council for approval, True said.
The agreement also needs to address any potential legal conflicts between the agencies that might arise, True said.
“We all want there to be safeguards and protections in place,” True said. “We want to be able to [enter the agreement] comfortably on all sides.”
The agreement will be similar to the one the city has with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA), because it will rely on the new board to formulate its own methods to comply with the tax, True said. The city currently collects a 2 percent lodging tax, which ACRA distributes for marketing purposes.
“We’re trying not to totally reinvent the wheel,” True said.
Aspen Education Foundation President Robin Hamill, who is one of the seven members of the new board, said the city also will likely take a small fee from the fund to pay for the costs of collecting the tax. The terms of that fee still need to be discussed, he said.
In the meantime, Hamill and his fellow supporters are celebrating the fact the tax passed, he said.
“We’re all totally enthusiastic about [the results],” he said.