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FILE PHOTO: Neighbor Jenna Iszler hugs Chad Cheek this spring as Creek’s property is excavated to begin rebuilding his family’s Superior home that was lost in the Marshall Fire. Multiple neighbors came to see the groundbreaking, the first in a neighborhood that lost many homes in the fire, including Iszler’s.

The town of Superior is pleading for help on behalf of its residents over taxes that, unless waived, gives the state a "windfall" tied to new construction, but that will create a financial burden on residents trying to rebuild their homes following 2021's Marshall fire.
 
The town is urging the state Capitol to waive those taxes.
    
At issue are use taxes that, if applied, would cost nearly $10,000 per household, town officials said.
 
In a letter to Democratic leaders at the state Capitol and Gov. Jared Polis, town officials noted that embedded in the cost of rebuilding — which could reach $2 billion —  following the Marshall fire are various sales and use taxes, ranging from 0.10% to 3.3%, depending on jurisdiction and applicability. 
 
Superior already waived those taxes in February, Louisville followed suit in June and Boulder County structured a partial rebate last August.
  
But 2.9% in state and 1% in Regional Transportation District use taxes remain, amounting to at least $11 million in revenue for the state, town officials said. 
 
"$10,000 is a substantial amount of money for a family seeking to rebuild after the fire," Mayor Mark Lacis, Mayor Pro-Tem Neal Shah and the town's trustees said in the letter sent to Polis, House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, on Tuesday.
 
"As a town, we knew we could make a significant financial impact to those homeowners rebuilding, especially in light of the fact that revenues received from use tax collections for fire rebuilds were never budgeted for, and if retained by the government, would represent a windfall double-tax collection from when the homes were first constructed, and then rebuilt, due to the fire," they said. 
 
The Marshall fire tore through more than a thousand homes in Boulder County in the middle of winter more than a year ago, exposing how vulnerable some of Colorado's communities are to fast-consuming wildfires. 

A spokesman for Polis told Colorado Politics his office will review the letter.

"The governor’s position remains consistent," Conor Cahill said in a statement. "The governor strongly supports tax relief for victims of the Marshall Fire. The governor welcomes the state legislature to continue to work on suspending taxes for fire victims either through an interim committee or in legislative sessions."

The Governor's Office noted some of the state actions meant to aid fire survivors, including millions of dollars toward rebuilding and the creation of the Office of Climate Preparedness to help address future challenges. 
 
Superior currently has 137 rebuild permits, and the town issued its first residential Certificate of Occupancy on the one-year anniversary of the Dec. 30, 2021 fire, the letter noted.
 
The General Assembly, in fact, had a chance to waive those use taxes last year but rejected an amendment to do so in Senate Bill 22-206.
 
The state could rake in about $9 million from the state tax, with RTD receiving about $3 million, the town letter said.
 
While RTD supports the waiver, the state has to act to make it happen.
 
The town is asking for legislative action no later than March and also that, going forward, the state protect residents from use tax collection during a statewide emergency.
 
Officials said at a time when so many families are struggling to rebuild and with many underinsured, fire survivors "desperately need additional resources to navigate the severe financial hardship cause by the worst wildfire in Colorado history."
 
The issue resurfaced at a time when some of the residents of the Marshall fire lack representation at the state House.
 
State Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Louisville, resigned her House seat on Jan. 8, just prior to the start of the 2023 session. The town of Marshall and the west side of Superior are in House District 49, represented by Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. But the east side of Superior and Louisville currently are not represented in the state House.
 
A Democratic HD12 vacancy committee is scheduled to meet on Jan. 28 to choose Bernett's replacement. 

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