Longmont City Council Approves Package of Grocery Tax Rebate-related Ordinances
Longmont City Council members on Tuesday night voted their unanimous final approval of a set of ordinances that will create a new program for low-income residents to get refunds of at least part of the 3.53 percent municipal sales tax on groceries.
The six ordinances also will allow Longmont to combine the process for residents to apply for a number of financial assistance, rebate or discount programs already in place for income-eligible households.
The grocery tax rebate program’s eligibility guidelines would be based on income guidelines used to determine whether people qualify for Boulder County’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP).
Under those guidelines and the proposed ordinance, people whose income last year was at or below 160 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for partial refunds of Longmont’s sales tax on food.
Currently, 160 percent of the federal poverty level is equivalent to $19,296 a year for an individual, $26,796 for a couple and $33,696 for a family of three, officials said.
An income-qualified one-person Longmont household could get a $78 grocery sales tax rebate, a two-person household $156 if they jointly file taxes, and a household with three or more people a $204 rebate.
Exiting city assistance programs expected to become part of the single-application process include a property tax or rent rebate for people who are 65 or older or disabled; a water bill rebate for utility customers with incomes of up to 160 percent of the federal poverty level; an electric bill discount for low-income seniors and disabled residents; an electric utility discount for residents using medically required electric-powered life support equipment, and a rebate for disabled people or those 65 and older of the park and greenway maintenance fee charged on utility bills.
No one commented on the ordinances during a public hearing Tuesday night.
Staff has been working on creating a single application form for the combined financial aid programs known as “Longmont CAReS,” the Longmont City Assistance and Rebate System, as well as information about the kinds of assistance available, who would qualify, how assistance will be provided, and where and how people can apply.
Marijke Unger, city communications manager, said Tuesday night that the city hopes to by April 1 have in place the program for qualified residents to apply for the grocery tax rebate and the other benefits for which they may be eligible.
The grocery tax rebate, along with the rebates and discounts already in place, will be given as a lump sum credit on city utility bills. Qualified applicants who are not utility customers will get a check for the grocery tax rebate.
Details about the program are to be posted on a Longmont CAReS website — tinyurl.com/y3hycrw5 — where there is a link people can use to request notification when the program is up and running.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc