Funding recycling in Summit County: tag vs. tax
Ryan Summerlin February 13, 2013
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge officials urged members of a countywide task force charged with resolving the Summit County landfill funding crisis to consider a bag-and-tag system, and back away from a proposed tax measure.
The bag-and-tag model would require customers to purchase a tag for each bag of trash or recycling to be picked up, with the cost of the tag covering the operational expenses of the landfill and recycling facilities.
The recycling program has become a drain on the cash-strapped landfill facility in recent years, reducing trash revenue while failing to pay for its own operation. This year, the once-self-sufficient landfill faced a $155,000 budget shortfall.
Task force members are considering asking voters for a property tax increase to help close the gap, but Breckenridge officials are favoring what they called the fairer user-fee model.
“I don’t think the task force has spent enough time talking about the bag-and-tag possibility,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. “(I) want to really challenge them to think about that hard before we rule that out.”
Colorado law prevents municipalities from contracting with a single private trash-hauling service, so competing trash haulers would be using the tag system and would be able to set the price on their tags, town officials said.
But county officials are skeptical of the bag-and-tag model, saying under Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights law, even such a user-fee-style system would likely need to be approved by voters before it could be implemented countywide, as the price of the tags could be considered a “trash tax.”
“We don’t believe that counties in the state of Colorado have the authority to do that without going to a vote,” assistant county manager Thad Noll said. “However, we’re going to do more research on it, because it could be an easier solution.”
A property tax measure would ask voters to approve an increase of approximately $2.23 per $400,000 in property value. The question would appear as a countywide measure and would have to win the approval of the Summit Board of County Commissioners to make it to the ballot.