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Longmont Moves Closer to Launching Grocery Tax Rebate Program

February 27, 2019
Cashier Lane Geraths rings up Jeri Selby purchases Monday at Lucky's Market. Longmont City Council on Tuesday gave informal approval to draft language for an ordinance creating a grocery tax rebate.

Longmont CAReS

For more information about Longmont CAReS, the City Assistance and Rebate System, visit tinyurl.com/y3hycrw5

 

Longmont City Council on Tuesday night gave its informal approval to draft language in ordinances that would create a system for low-income residents to get refunds to offset at least part of the 3.53 percent municipal sales tax they must pay on groceries.

“Are they on the right track?” Mayor Brian Bagley asked his council colleagues, who nodded their agreement.

Six ordinances, which are expected to be scheduled for initial formal council votes on Tuesday and a public hearing and final council action on March 19, also would combine the process for residents to apply for financial assistance, rebates or discounts for a number of programs already in place for income-eligible households.

The food tax rebate program’s eligibility guidelines would be based on income guidelines used to determine whether people qualify to participate in 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.

As presently proposed, a one-person Longmont household could get a $78 grocery sales tax rebate, a two-person household $156 if those two file taxes together, and a household with three or more people a $204 rebate if those people file taxes together.

Exiting city assistance programs that are 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 people 65 and older or disabled of the park and greenway maintenance fee that they’re charged on their utility bills.

Staff is in the process of 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 different kinds of assistance available, about who would qualify, about how the assistance will be provided, and where and how people can apply.

The grocery tax rebate, along with the rebates and discounts already in place, would be given as a lump sum credit on city utility bills. Qualified applicants who are not utility customers would get a check for the grocery tax rebate.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc