Denver councilman proposes raising sales tax to boost parks funding

City to discuss putting measure on Nov. ballot
Posted at 7:55 AM, Jun 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-12 09:55:34-04

DENVER — The sales tax in Denver could go up slightly under a new proposal. On Tuesday, the Denver city finance committee will discuss the proposal by councilman Jolon Clark to raise the sales tax by .25 percent.

The tax hike means people would pay about 2.5 cents more for every $10 they spend buying goods in Denver.

Clark says the parks are becoming more crowded as more people visit and move to Denver. That’s causing more wear and tear. The tax hike would bring in an additional $45.9 million for parks next year.

However, before the tax raise goes into effect, there are several big hurdles it needs to overcome first.

After the finance committee hearing Tuesday, the Denver city council will need to decide whether it wants to add that proposal onto the November ballot for voters. The council will need to make that decision by August 27.

Then, it will be up to voters to ultimately decide whether the tax hike should go through.

Denver already spends about $72.8 million on parks and has 250 urban parks to maintain.

At Washington Park, people were divided on the issue of raising taxes.

“I would certainly support that,” said John Whitston. “The benefit we get from the parks for Denver and for Colorado is incredible.”

However, Mike Wootan is against the tax hike proposal because he doesn’t believe the money already dedicated to them is being spent properly.

“I’m not sure the money is being used in the right place anyway. I don’t think it is. I mean this park here is probably the most used park in the city and the roads are not really that great,” Wootan said.

Meanwhile, Steven Baker says he brings his dog to Washington Park every day, sometimes up to three times a day, and he doesn’t mind paying more to keep it nice.

“I’m a park lover and I live close to Washington Park and it’s beautiful and I’m excited that the city continues to invest in our park system so I’m for it,” Baker said.

Baker isn’t sure he would even notice the tax hike if it did pass but said he would be willing to pay even more to keep Denver’s parks nice.

All three men, however, did find one area where they can agree. All three said they have seen the parks get busier over the years and know Denver’s rapid growth is to blame.

“You see a lot more people, especially around 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock. It’s pretty busy. And on the weekends, I mean forget it, it’s really busy. You can’t drive anymore. Walking the dogs is ridiculous,” Wootan said.

The city finance committee will discuss the tax hike at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.