City Staff Recommends 17% Sales Tax Increase

by John Kiljan

At a 6:00 pm workshop on March 14th, the Arvada City Staff will recommend increasing the City’s general sales tax from 3.0% to 3.5% (a 17% increase) with the extra 0.5% going largely to road maintenance and improvements.  The increase would amount to an extra 50 cents on every $100 spent in the City.  Urban renewal estimates that the median family in Arvada spends about 35% of its gross income on retail expenditures, and that about 54% of that will be spent in Arvada itself.  That means the increase will work out to about an additional $65 a year in sales taxes for the average Arvada family [with a $68,210 annual income].

The increase is expected to bring in an additional $9 million a year for road improvements.  To be enacted, the tax increase will require a vote of the citizens.

TaxProjectAreasMarch2016The City also levies an additional 0.46% law-enforcement tax on sales, with that revenue being dedicated to supporting the City’s police department.  So, the total City sales tax would increase to 3.96% [corrected] under this proposal.  The State, County and other districts also tack on other sales taxes for our purchases.  Including those, the total sales tax amount would increase from the 7.96% being charged now to 8.46% under this proposal.  That would give Arvada one of the highest sales tax rates in the metro area – and possibly the highest in Jefferson County.

SalesTaxIncreaseRecMarch2016Although Arvada’s road condition surveys show that our roads have not degraded overall in the last several years, biennial public surveys have shown that citizens are much less satisfied with the conditions of the roads and increasing congestion in parts of Arvada.  Moreover, even though the measured surface conditions of the roads have not gone down, pavement performance models show that Arvada’s ageing streets are soon headed for a steep decline in their rideability if maintenance efforts are not increased.

Sales tax increases tend to have more impact on lower-income families, who have to spend more of their income on basic necessities, than they do on better-off families with more disposable income.   But Staff also considered less regressive taxes, such as increasing Arvada’s relatively low property taxes, before making its recommendation to the Council.

PossibleFundingScenariosMar2016What the City Council will do with this recommendation is far from certain.  Past public comments from Council members have shown they are loath to propose any new taxes – even if they do require approval by the voters.  And they are not particularly enthusiastic about increasing fees for increased City services either.

This is an issue to watch, and it is an issue that will not go away on its own.

For a while at least, you can see Staff’s presentation slides in the current Council packet at this link:

The workshop starts at 6:00 pm in City Hall and is open to the public, although no public comment is expected to be taken at this session.

The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.

You can read all of our articles on our main website at or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at

c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004


March 12, 2016


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