Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
Damaged area of Soda Creek Road

Clear Creek County considering sales tax question to help fund road maintenance and safety

Clear Creek County’s Road and Bridge Department is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 150 lane miles of paved roads across the County, as well as 7 bridges that fall under the provisions of the National Bridge Inventory Standards over Clear Creek and other drainages, and 170 lane miles of unpaved roads and other streets.

The steep terrain and multiple freeze-thaw zones that define the County’s topography require the Road and Bridge Department to prioritize its paving, maintenance and repair projects to ensure their functionality and public safety.

Doing so allows fire trucks, ambulances and law enforcement to respond to emergencies, buses to carry our kids safely back and forth to school, and local businesses to serve residents and visitors.

Ongoing Budget Challenges

For the 2021 budget year, the County budgeted about $900,000 for pavement maintenance. However, according to staff estimates, the County needs an additional $1.5 million annually to maintain its paved roads and bridges at their current levels to prevent far more expensive reconstruction projects. Doing so could increase the useful life of most County roads by 20 years or more.

The budget shortfall has increased over the past 10 years, as the amount of funds available to the County has steadily declined. This year alone, the County’s budget for pavement maintenance declined more than $500,000 from the 2020 budget.

A primary reason for this drop is reductions in property-tax collections from the Henderson Mine, which at its peak of operations represented more than 65 percent of the County’s property taxes. This decline is expected to continue into the future.

Since the maintenance and safety needs for County roads will increase, the County needs to identify new, sustainable funding sources.


Factors Impacting Road Budget

The County also faces other factors that increase its maintenance budget. These include projects developed by the Colorado Department of Transportation along Interstate 70. As bridges, intersections and other pieces of transportation infrastructure are added by CDOT, maintenance and repair responsibilities revert back to the County. And although the County receives some state funding through the gas tax and other sources, that share has also declined over the past decade, while future increases likely will not keep pace with inflation.

Additionally, statewide, and in Clear Creek County, increases in construction costs due to labor and material shortages are outpacing inflation. Without new funding, these increases will push critical projects out farther, making them more expensive and disruptive.


Road Maintenance Challenges

The County has a policy and track record of ongoing maintenance of its roadways. Keeping up with maintenance saves the County and its taxpayers money by reducing the need for major repaving projects, which are more labor and material intensive and disruptive to traffic countywide.

Many of our key County roads were built along former mining infrastructure. This creates challenges with drainage, subsurface conditions and steep grades. And along with the County’s topography and freeze-thaw cycles comes a short construction season, where major projects have to be done between April and October. This situation further increases construction costs as labor and materials become in short supply among our neighboring mountain counties.


Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Proposal


County Commissioners and staff have reviewed several options and are considering asking voters for a 1 percent sales-tax increase to help bridge the gap in the County’s road-funding shortfall. This increase would be dedicated only to maintenance and safety improvements for County roads and bridges. Clear Creek County voters would have to approve this tax before it can be implemented.

If approved, the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax is estimated to provide about $1.5 million annually toward the road-funding shortfall.

This increase would add an additional $1 to a $100 purchase by increasing the current County sales-tax rate from 1.65 percent to 2.65 percent.

Establishing a dedicated Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax would allow tourists and I-70 and U.S. 40 travelers to fund a significant portion of this proposal.

As part of the proposal, the County is looking at a share-back program with the towns of Empire, Georgetown, Idaho Springs and Silver Plume to allow a portion of this tax to address transportation needs in our local communities. Doing this would further expand the impact of this proposal for Clear Creek residents and businesses.


Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Survey


The Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Survey submission period has ended.

The Road and Bridge Department received 336 completed surveys and is currently accepting comment and stories submissions in the tabs below.

Clear Creek County wants to hear from you! Please share your thoughts about the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax or other road and bridge topics in the comments and stories tabs below.



Clear Creek County considering sales tax question to help fund road maintenance and safety

Clear Creek County’s Road and Bridge Department is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 150 lane miles of paved roads across the County, as well as 7 bridges that fall under the provisions of the National Bridge Inventory Standards over Clear Creek and other drainages, and 170 lane miles of unpaved roads and other streets.

The steep terrain and multiple freeze-thaw zones that define the County’s topography require the Road and Bridge Department to prioritize its paving, maintenance and repair projects to ensure their functionality and public safety.

Doing so allows fire trucks, ambulances and law enforcement to respond to emergencies, buses to carry our kids safely back and forth to school, and local businesses to serve residents and visitors.

Ongoing Budget Challenges

For the 2021 budget year, the County budgeted about $900,000 for pavement maintenance. However, according to staff estimates, the County needs an additional $1.5 million annually to maintain its paved roads and bridges at their current levels to prevent far more expensive reconstruction projects. Doing so could increase the useful life of most County roads by 20 years or more.

The budget shortfall has increased over the past 10 years, as the amount of funds available to the County has steadily declined. This year alone, the County’s budget for pavement maintenance declined more than $500,000 from the 2020 budget.

A primary reason for this drop is reductions in property-tax collections from the Henderson Mine, which at its peak of operations represented more than 65 percent of the County’s property taxes. This decline is expected to continue into the future.

Since the maintenance and safety needs for County roads will increase, the County needs to identify new, sustainable funding sources.


Factors Impacting Road Budget

The County also faces other factors that increase its maintenance budget. These include projects developed by the Colorado Department of Transportation along Interstate 70. As bridges, intersections and other pieces of transportation infrastructure are added by CDOT, maintenance and repair responsibilities revert back to the County. And although the County receives some state funding through the gas tax and other sources, that share has also declined over the past decade, while future increases likely will not keep pace with inflation.

Additionally, statewide, and in Clear Creek County, increases in construction costs due to labor and material shortages are outpacing inflation. Without new funding, these increases will push critical projects out farther, making them more expensive and disruptive.


Road Maintenance Challenges

The County has a policy and track record of ongoing maintenance of its roadways. Keeping up with maintenance saves the County and its taxpayers money by reducing the need for major repaving projects, which are more labor and material intensive and disruptive to traffic countywide.

Many of our key County roads were built along former mining infrastructure. This creates challenges with drainage, subsurface conditions and steep grades. And along with the County’s topography and freeze-thaw cycles comes a short construction season, where major projects have to be done between April and October. This situation further increases construction costs as labor and materials become in short supply among our neighboring mountain counties.


Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Proposal


County Commissioners and staff have reviewed several options and are considering asking voters for a 1 percent sales-tax increase to help bridge the gap in the County’s road-funding shortfall. This increase would be dedicated only to maintenance and safety improvements for County roads and bridges. Clear Creek County voters would have to approve this tax before it can be implemented.

If approved, the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax is estimated to provide about $1.5 million annually toward the road-funding shortfall.

This increase would add an additional $1 to a $100 purchase by increasing the current County sales-tax rate from 1.65 percent to 2.65 percent.

Establishing a dedicated Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax would allow tourists and I-70 and U.S. 40 travelers to fund a significant portion of this proposal.

As part of the proposal, the County is looking at a share-back program with the towns of Empire, Georgetown, Idaho Springs and Silver Plume to allow a portion of this tax to address transportation needs in our local communities. Doing this would further expand the impact of this proposal for Clear Creek residents and businesses.


Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Survey


The Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax Survey submission period has ended.

The Road and Bridge Department received 336 completed surveys and is currently accepting comment and stories submissions in the tabs below.

Clear Creek County wants to hear from you! Please share your thoughts about the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax or other road and bridge topics in the comments and stories tabs below.



  • Why is the County considering this tax now?

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    With the decline in the County’s available road funding over the past 10 years, and the significant drop from the 2020 budget, the Commissioners and staff believe it’s important to find a sustainable funding source to ensure proper maintenance to address the safety, functionality and longevity of County roads.

  • How will the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax benefit taxpayers?

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Addressing this shortfall now will save the County millions in tax dollars in the long term. According to a professional study of several County roads, if the pavement deteriorates beyond ongoing maintenance standards, reconstruction costs would be more than triple than just maintaining the roads. The same report found that doing standard maintenance will extend the useful lives of many County roads by 20 years.

  • What priorities will be addressed with this proposal?

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    If approved by voters, the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax would allow the County to focus on two key areas: First, long-term maintenance projects along primary roads including Fall River Road, Old Squaw Pass Road, Witter Gulch Road, Alvarado Road and Stanley Road, as well as secondary roads like Alice Road, North Empire Road, Echo Lake Drive and Soda Creek Road. In total, the County has maintenance plans for more than 20 primary roads and more than 40 secondary roads if this measure was approved.

    Secondly, the County would do major safety upgrades including signage, traffic-calming measures, guard rails, shoulders and rock mitigations. Improvements would include the Stagecoach Boulevard and Greystone Road intersection and other key safety concerns.

  • Did Clear Creek County previously have a dedicated road tax?

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Yes. In 2008, County voters approved a dedicated property tax to pave several roads within the County. Key projects accomplished as part of that tax included remediation and reconstruction projects for roads such as Squaw Pass Road, Alvarado Road, Mill Creek Road, Witter Gulch Road, Stagecoach Blvd. and Greystone Road. The property tax expired once these capital-improvement projects were completed. However, these paved roads now require ongoing maintenance to ensure that the taxpayers’ investments are properly maintained.

  • How much will the sales-tax increase cost?

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Right now, the County is considering a 1 percent sales tax dedicated to road and bridge maintenance. If approved, this would add 10 cents to a $10 purchase or $1 to every $100 purchase. This tax would not be added to the purchase of groceries or prescription medications. And, unlike a property tax, the Road and Bridge Safety Sales Tax would allow tourists and I-70 and U.S. 40 travelers to fund a significant portion of this proposal.

Page last updated: 03 September 2021, 09:47