Longmont City Council Gives Go-ahead for Establishing Food Tax Rebate Program
Longmont city staff got city council go-ahead Tuesday to proceed with establishing a program to refund to low-income residents at least part of the 3.53 percent municipal sales tax the city charges on groceries.
As is the case with many Colorado cities and towns, Longmont does not exempt food purchases from its municipal sales and use tax.
Staff had suggested, and council members informally agreed Tuesday night, that Longmont will probably base eligibility for the rebates on eligibility guidelines for Boulder County’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Those guidelines take into account the number of members in a family with incomes below 160 percent of the federal poverty level. According to a staff memo to council, an individual with income of $19,296, a couple with income $26,796 or a family of three with income of $33,696 would be eligible for the rebate.
The grocery sales tax rebates could amount to $78 for a year for an income-qualified individual and $78 for each additional family member, with a limit of $204 per family in a given year.
Individuals and families getting the rebate would receive it as a credit on their city utility bill. If they are not being billed for city water, electric and storm water services, the city would issue a rebate check.
Staff has estimated that about 600 income-eligible households will apply for the rebate program next year.
Staff has suggested bundling the process of applying for and awarding the grocery tax rebates with other programs Longmont already provides for various categories of low-income residents.
Those include a property tax or rent rebate for people 65 and 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, and an electric utility discount for residents using medically-required, electric-powered life-support equipment.
At some point over the coming few months, staff is expected to present council with any ordinances needed to authorize and provide procedural details for the rebate program, as well as a communications plan to inform residents about its availability.
John Fryar: 303-684-5211, email@example.com or twitter.com/jfryartc