2019 Fall Election Ballot Issue

Below you will find a fact sheet and any pro and con statements the City received on the November 2019 ballot issue regarding retention of tobacco tax revenues.

  1. Fact Sheet
  2. Pro Statements
  3. Con Statements

Tobacco Fact Sheet

History

On November 7, 2017 the Aspen voters approved a new sales tax on tobacco sold in Aspen by a vote of 1,249 to 438. The ballot measure that voters passed went into effect in 2018 allowing the City of Aspen to begin collecting a tax of fifteen cents per cigarette or $3 per pack of 20 cigarettes with the stipulation that the tax amount could increase up to twenty cents per cigarette and $4 per pack over the next ten years.  In addition, a new sales tax of 40% would be collected on all other tobacco products sold in Aspen.

The ballot measure stipulated that the tax revenues collected would be used specifically for financing health and human services, tobacco related health issues, and addiction and substance abuse education and mitigation.

The 2017 ballot issue was projected to generate up to $325,000 in tax funds.

Health and Human Services Implementation

All revenues collected from the sales tax are being allocated to health and human service efforts to educate and mitigate tobacco related health issues, addiction and substance abuse.  Since this is the first year of the program, none of the revenues have been spent yet and the plan to spend them is underway.  The goal is not to create new programs, but to enhance existing efforts.

The plan to execute the mitigation, education, and prevention efforts is for the majority of the funds (approximately 75%) to go to the Aspen School District under an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Aspen.  The Aspen School District in partnership with the school-based collaborative program, Aspen Family Connections will focus on a comprehensive list of prevention initiatives aimed at mental health, substance use and abuse, and family and youth risk factors and behaviors.  The audience for these programs is both students and parents in early education settings through Aspen High School, offering comprehensive and targeted efforts that follow students from pre-school through age 18.  Services will be available in English and Spanish.  Examples of programs include: universal prevention, life skills, the formation of a youth advisory group, peer-to-peer interactions, crisis intervention, partnerships with community non-profits such as The Buddy Program, RESPONSE, Kids First, and the Aspen Youth Center.  The program will also do outreach to children and parents who are not part of the school district.

In addition, the program will be assessed on its effectiveness though surveys and data collection in the schools as well as analyzing results from statewide surveys.

The remaining funds, approximately 25% will go toward adult programming and to have some funds in reserve in the instance of tax collection fluctuations over time.

You can read the memo from the August 13, 2019 worksession outlining this program here.

 

TABOR

The Colorado voters approved the TABOR amendment in 1992, which limits the amount of revenue state and local governments can retain and spend.  Due to TABOR stipulations, surplus revenues must be returned to the taxpayers unless they pass another ballot question allowing the government to keep the surplus. 

Because the initial estimate by the City was that $325,000 would be collected, any revenues over this amount are subject to voter approval in order for the City to keep and spend them.  In 2018 the City collected $436,662 so the extra $111,662 is subject to voter approval in order to be spent on health and human services, tobacco related health issues, and addiction and substance abuse education and mitigation.

2018 Tax Collections

Estimated Tax Revenues

Actual Tax Revenues

Surplus from Estimate

$325,000

$436,662

$111,662

In November, through the ballot issue below, Aspen voters will be asked to permit the City of Aspen to keep and spend all the excess tax revenues over the initial $325,000 estimate for the present and all years into the future. If the voters reject this request, the City will have to evaluate the adjustment of the tax rate and determine the mechanism for the return of the surplus to the citizens.

2019 Ballot Question

The TABOR ballot issues question related to tobacco is:
Ballot Issue: Retention of excess of initial revenue estimate of tobacco sales tax


Without imposing any new tax or increasing any tax rate, may the City of Aspen keep all revenues (including those in excess of the initial revenue estimate) from the November 2017 voter-approved tobacco related products sales tax (Ballot Issue 2B), and continue to collect the tax at the previously defined rate, and spend all revenues collected for the purposes as approved by voters, including Health and Human Services, tobacco-related health issues, and addiction and substance abuse education and mitigation?


Yes/For
No/Against