New Year Brings Higher Longmont Sales Tax, Water and Sewer Rates
Longmont sales tax, water and sewer rates, recreation fees
Longmont’s municipal sales and use tax rate, and its water and sewer rates, will increase with the start of the new year. The city’s recreation facilities’ admission fees are scheduled to increase on Feb. 1. City information about those new rates and charges can be viewed online:
Sales and use tax: tinyurl.com/ya5bw2ud
Water, sewer rates: tinyurl.com/ycccck3w
Recreation facility fees: tinyurl.com/yat34lkg
Starting on Monday, people who buy items in Longmont will pay a higher city sales tax on their purchases.
In November’s election, Longmont voters authorized raising the municipal sales tax rate from 3.275 percent to 3.53 percent to help fund public safety.
The tax increase, which is projected to generate an additional $5 million or more in Longmont’s 2018 sales and use tax collections, will equal about an additional 2.55 cents in city taxes on a $10 purchase of taxable goods, or an additional 25.5 cent in taxes on a $100 purchase..
That additional sales tax income is to be spent on hiring, training, equipping and providing facilities for additional police officers, emergency dispatchers, firefighters and other public safety personnel over coming years.
Longmont residents and businesses also will be paying higher water and sewer rates that take effect on Monday.
Water rates will increase by an average of 9 percent, the latest in a set of automatic annual increases the City Council originally approved in January 2015. Sewer rates are to increase by an average of 3 percent, a city staff-recommended hike the council approved in October.
“We’re very thankful to the community for its support” for the tax-hike measure, said Jeff Satur, the Public Safety Department’s deputy chief for police services.
“We are going to be doing some heavy recruitment” to fill those tax-funded positions, Satur said.
Satur said the positions Longmont hopes to fill in 2018 — the first year of collections of the higher sales tax — include: two patrol officers, two detectives, one detective sergeant, five communications specialists, one communications supervisor, an armorer, two community service officer traffic investigators, one animal control officer, one community-service sex-offense detection specialist, one legal adviser, and a body camera technician.
Those additional public safety personnel won’t all be on the job until later in 2018 or sometime in 2019, Satur noted. He said that after the positions are advertised and applications reviewed, the hiring dates are expected to be sometime in mid July.
For example, police applicants who already are certified law enforcement officers, or who can be certified without additional academy training, will have to complete four months of Longmont field training and could be working on their ownsometime in October or November, Satur said.
Officers who have to go to the police academy will not be out of field training and working on their own until April or May 2019, he said.
Depending on the communications specialists’ prior training and experience, they could be in training for nine months and would not be working on their own in the emergency communications division until sometime in March 2019, Satur said.
“Our field training officers and our training and personnel unit are going to be very busy,” he said.
Satur said the budget expenses of the added police positions “come with cars and other equipment” — such as bulletproof vests, radios, duty belts, gear, and computers.
He said the city will also be remodeling some of the Safety and Justice Center building “to make room” for the additional staff. “The remodeling plan hasn’t been fully developed, but we will need to make some changes to offices, cubicles, etc.”
Among the public safety needs identified by the city staff that are expected to be funded in future budget years, would include, in 2019, four more patrol officers, an additional traffic officer, a Longmont Emergency Communications Center technical systems specialist and a mobile data computer specialist — and in 2020, five more patrol officers, two more detectives, three paramedics, four firefighters , a property and evidence technician, an Office of Emergency Management recovery officer and a fire prevention specialist.
More water, sewer customers to fuel revenues
As for the higher water and sewer rates taking effect on Jan. 1, the revenues will be used “to provide continuing water and sewer services to Longmont residents and businesses,” said Bob Allen, the Department of Public Services and Natural Resources’ operations director.
“Major cost drivers include the replacement of aging infrastructure, utility improvements to maintain regulatory compliance, and facility expansions to address future demands,” Allen said.
Allen said revenues from 2017 water rates were expected to total almost $15.9 million, with revenues projected to total nearly $18 million in 2018, with the 9 percent average increase that starts onMonday.
That overall budgeted water revenue increase from bills paid by water users is anticipated to be greater than 9 percent, Allen said, because it also includes projected growth in the number of customers that will be served as well as year-to-year variations in water use.
“Specific areas of emphasis for water system funding in the near future include an upcoming expansion of the Nelson Flanders water plant, replacement of aging pipes and water tanks, the construction of the Windy Gap Firming Project” — Longmont’s share of expenses of a water storage reservoir to be built in Larimer County — “and the completion of post-flood projects to increase the raw water system’s resilience,” Allen said.
Allen said revenues from the 3 percent hike in sewer rates that takes effect on Monday “will be targeted broadly to cover increases in operating and maintenance costs due to inflationary pressures in areas such as chemicals, power, labor and contracted services.”
Allen said budgeted sewer-rate revenues for 2017 were about $14.2 million and are expected to be about $14.6 million in 2018.
That, he said, would actually less than a 3 percent increase in sewer-rate revenue collections “because we are also projecting declining per capita indoor use” of water that winds up being sent into the sewage collection and treatment system.
“Construction costs have gone up considerably in the past couple of years as the economy has heated up, driving higher costs for large maintenance projects such as the ongoing replacement of pipes in the sewer collection and water distribution systems,” Allen said.
Hike in admissions fees
In another month, on Feb. 1, Longmont will also be increasing a number of its admissions fees for single visits and multiple-visit passes for the city’s recreation facilities — hikes the City Council informally approved in September and that were built into the 2018 budget the council adopted in October.
That will raise what Longmont charges people using the Recreation Center, the St. Vrain Memorial Building and the city’s swimming pools.
For Longmont residents, the single-admission “drop-in” fee for a child between the ages of 2 and 10 using a city recreation facility will go from $3.75 to $4.25; the single-visit fee for youth between the ages of 11 and 17 will increase from $4 to $4.50; the fee for an adult between the ages of 18 and 54 will go from $5 to $5.50, and the fee for a senior age 55 and older would increase from $4 to $4.50.
Longmont’s recreation facility admissions charges to non-residents, which are higher than its charges for residents, will also increase.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, email@example.com or twitter.com/jfryartc