Lone Tree’s sales and use tax will be reduced by 0.5% for the month of December, said Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet during a recent town hall.
In November 2021, Lone Tree voters approved ballot issue 2E, increasing the city’s sales tax by 1% for a period of 10 years. This approval increased the overall city sales and use tax to 2.8125%.
“These monies were essential to maintain our public safety, our public works, our capital investment, our planning for the future, and maintaining the efficient local government that we have here,” Millet said to an audience of about 50 people at the Lone Tree Arts Center.
Due to TABOR, the city had to project a maximum amount it was allowed to collect from the 2E tax in 2022. The maximum was set at $15,563,749.
“We did include inflation estimates in our forecasting. We did not include 8%,” Millet said.
According to a city staff report, through July, sales tax collections were trending 8% above 2019 levels, in part due to rising inflation rates, which means the city was projected to collect more than the maximum amount.
To comply with TABOR and ensure the city does not over-collect, the city council approved an ordinance in October to temporarily reduce the sales tax by 0.5% for December. With the approval, the city sales tax rate in December will go from 2.8125% to 2.3125%.
In January, the city’s tax rate will return to 2.8125%, Millet said.
Part of the city’s sales tax is a 0.3125% rate, which was approved by voters to build recreation projects and the Lone Tree Arts Center, according to the city’s website.
Millet said by Nov. 30 of next year, the city is expected to pay off its arts and recreation bonds, meaning the 0.3125% rate will end and the city’s sales tax rate will be 2.5% by December 2023.
“So, we are well positioned for the future,” Millet said. “Let’s talk about what we did with those revenues in 2022.”
Uses of 2E tax funding
About 81% of the revenue from the 2E tax went to capital expenses and sharebacks, the police department and public works, Millet said.
“The remainder of those dollars, that 19%, is focused on really providing the high level of city services that we’ve all come to love and enjoy as residents,” Millet said.
For the police department, funding from the 2E tax allowed the city to unfreeze two police officer positions and hire another officer to join the crisis response team, Millet said.
“That officer is partnered with a mental health clinician,” she said. “We are very pleased that we have an officer that is specialized and trained in that, and we think it provides a great service to people in crisis and to our community.”
Millet said police officers are often the frontline of mental health and homelessness response. The homelessness crisis is increasing throughout the region and impacting the city as well, she added.
“It’s another one of the burdens that has been placed on our police department in the City of Lone Tree, because that is the only thing we have as a resource to respond,” Millet said.
Millet applauded the creation of Douglas County’s Homeless Engagement, Assistance and Resource Team, also referred to as HEART. The team consists of three navigators who assist law enforcement, respond to community calls regarding homelessness and provide support to individuals experiencing homelessness, according to Douglas County’s website.
“It is not a crime to be homeless,” she said. “What we have the ability to do is go out and try and connect these individuals with resources — provide a humane, kind place to land.”
Funding from the 2E tax measure helped the city fund more public works issues, including road maintenance, storm sewer repairs and assessment, and replacement of traffic signals, Millet said.
The city is also able to fully fund its free micro-transit service again, she said. Link On Demand is a shuttle service that offers people rides within the city limits for free.
Update on Treõ At Lone Tree
While discussing businesses in Lone Tree, Millet gave an update on Treõ At Lone Tree, a building located at 9070 Maximus Drive that faces South Yosemite Street, which has been vacant for more than a decade.
“Nobody is more frustrated with the lack of progress and change and development at Treõ property than me,” Millet said. “We hear you and our patience is running out.”
Millet said the city would always prefer that the market resolve the issues, but it has been “a dozen years” and it hasn’t been resolved.
She is hopeful there will be changes, explaining the council, city staff and police department have spent more time than they should addressing the property.
There are a few “good opportunities in the works there,” she said, saying she is committed to seeing something change.
“There will be no zoning change there,” she said.
Millet described the development at RidgeGate East, located east of Interstate 25 and south of RidgeGate Parkway, as a great expansion of the Lone Tree community.
An 80-acre park is one of several developments coming to RidgeGate East, Millet said, in addition to a Lone Tree City Center, three school sites and three residential villages.
The first residential village, Lyric at RidgeGate, is overseen by Shea Homes and will involve about 2,000 attached and detached homes for sale, she said.
“It’s a range of products and a range of prices. We are hoping that some of these coming in will be a little more affordable,” she said, explaining it will be a more dense community and she thinks it will be a good addition.
Near the RTD RidgeGate Parkway Station, there is also an affordable housing project being built — Koelbel and Company’s Talus affordable housing project — which includes 67 apartments.
Millet said the apartments will be for people making about 60% of the area median income, which amounts to between $45,000 and $80,000, depending on the size of a person’s household.
“It’s our first affordable housing project,” she said. “The best of all worlds is we have people working in our community being able to live in our community, and projects like the Talus Koelbel project allow that to happen.”
The city’s investment in infrastructure has paved the way for the development, Millet said.