Bill could lead to more taxes to help Pueblo West fire department

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PUEBLO WEST, Colo. (KKTV) - A bill working its way through the state legislature could lead to more taxes in one local community.

It would allow special metro districts like Pueblo West to charge a sales tax, specifically for fire services. This bill is actually Rep. Bri Buentello's first bill. She represents House District 47, which Pueblo West is a part of.

This bill would not raise taxes. That question would have to go to voters first, but this bill would need to pass to allow Pueblo West to do that.

Pueblo West gets all of its revenue from property taxes and that is split up between the services they offer. The special district officers fire, parks and rec, roads, and more.

The fire chief, Brian Caserta, testified on behalf of this bill to the Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee on Jan. 28. He said the department needs more money to expand to handle the growth of the area. If a call comes in on the west edge of the district, it can take around 15 minutes to respond. The chief said that can be the difference between life and death.

Buentello believes the power to charge a sales tax should go to the voters.

“Because this bill is such common sense and really a local control bill, I feel very confident that it will get out of Senate committee and then the Senate floor,” she told 11 News.

The bill does have bipartisan support, but some Republicans feel this isn't the best way to address this issue. No one testified against the bill at its House committee meeting on the 28th of January.

The bill has made it out of the House, and it’s been introduced in the state Senate now. It’s been assigned to the Local Government Committee, but no date has been set on when it’ll be heard. If it passes, and the governor signs it, it will become law in August.

If it becomes law, Pueblo West will have to draft a question and turn to voters to approve a sales tax increase in order for the fire department to see any increased revenue.

To view a full version of the bill click here