Colo. County Voters Approve Sales Tax Increase to Cover EMS Expenses

News Nov 09, 2017

Nov. 08—Voters in Clear Creek County on Tuesday night appeared to approve a 0.65 percent sales tax increase to pay for an expected record-breaking year of calls for their community’s emergency medical services department.

The tally, after polls closed at 7 p.m. and the first results rolled in, was 64.65 percent for the measure and 35.35 against. That represented the split from the 2,130 votes cast in the small mountain county just west of Denver.

Ambulance service provided by Clear Creek EMS is now subsidized by the county to the tune of $800,000 a year. That’s more than half of the agency’s $1.5 million annual budget, and officials have said billing services and reimbursements aren’t covering enough of the costs.

The sales tax increase, if it stays on course to pass, is slated to generate about $1 million in revenue in its first year, starting Jan. 1.

The county currently has a 1 percent sales tax—one of the lowest in the state, officials say—that has been unchanged since 1976.

The Clear Creek County Commission voted unanimously to approve the ballot question seeking the increase earlier this year.

The county says the sales tax increase would substantially offset the costs associated with increased EMS calls, which have grown by 6 percent annually since 2013.

This year is projected to be the busiest on record for Clear Creek EMS, as a growing number of people pass through the county on Interstate 70 on their way to ski areas and the Western Slope.

“It means, very simply, that our community values are emergency services here in the rural communities,” said Tim Mauck, chair of the Clear Creek County Commission. “In terms of the money that it will generate, it will certainly help our community address a budget that will decrease over the very near future.”

Mauck told The Denver Post he felt voters in his county made “a real strong statement.”

The Denver Post