Red flag on revenue sharing

Once again the foolish idea of Longmont sharing revenues with other Boulder County cities will come before city council in a study presentation on Mar. 2, 2010. As the study data and common retail sense will show, it’s time to put to rest this harebrained fiscal thinking once and for all.

First, a little background from the city council agenda packet…

The Boulder County Consortium of Cities made revenue stability one of its top priorities and in 2007 they hired BBC Research and Consulting to provide research and analysis on potential methodologies to address sales tax revenue stability. Last summer a presentation on revenue stabilization was made to the City Council by Commissioner Ben Pearlman and Rachel Thompson of BBC. The Council authorized the use of $4,000 from the 2009 City Council contingency account for the purpose of engaging BBC to incorporate data from Longmont into the study they completed for the Consortium of Cities.

A previous council led by Julia Pirnack initially voiced opposition to the revenue sharing idea, but the now-ousted councilmember Karen Benker continually tried to resurrect this wealth redistribution concept while backed by a bloc majority on council for two years after the 2007 elections.

In reality, revenue sharing between BoCo cities amounts to a power play by the ruling Boulder elitists (including commissioners). They don’t want retail development in their own green utopian town, but they want a piece of the action with sales tax revenue from the Wal-Marts and Lowes of other Boulder County cities who do welcome growth and retail development. Longmont must have no part of this scheme.

The real kicker was in the findings of the BBC study as it relates to Longmont…

Summary of Findings
The Boulder County revenue sharing committee suggested a revenue pooling methodology based on incremental annual growth in retail sales. The committee also suggested three possible methodologies for distributing funds to each community. None of the Boulder County revenue sharing methodologies under consideration at this time would produce benefits for the city of Longmont, although annual losses are modest under any of these scenarios. If such a system were considered, at least under the models suggested by previous county revenue sharing committee, it would have neutral effects on Longmont, or produce small losses of annual revenue.

There you have it–county revenue sharing would do no good for Longmont and may well prove negative. Many prudent Longmonters could have told this to council in the first place and saved the city $4,000. We need every penny of our precious sales tax revenue to go toward the strained Longmont budget.

In the late 1990s, the wise leaders of Broomfield, CO, knowing that the lucrative FlatIron Crossing Mall was soon to open in their locale, took the bold step of forming their own county while escaping the clutches of anti-growth Boulder County.

Likewise, maybe it’s time to revitalize the talk of Longmont as the seat of a new St. Vrain County?

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