Oct 19

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

Beware the seven county-wide property tax hike, Question 7G

October 19, 2018

By Karl Honegger

Almost 60% of Colorado’s population, roughly 2.8 million people, live within the seven county Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD). If you are a voter within this district, you will see question 7G on your ballot, the first question ever referred by the district since its creation in 1969.  The ballot language asks voters to approve a $14.9 million property tax increase, and to exempt that new money from the revenue limits in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).  They deceptively claim this really isn’t a tax increase, but rather just a full restoration of their taxing authority.

If you are like me and want your community protected from flooding, and also love spending time near your local pond or stream, then why would you want to vote against such a proposal?

The answer has to do with two things, common sense and government entitlement.

Any voter with common sense would want to find out how the money is to be spent and what kind of oversight mechanisms are in place. Unfortunately, the Flood District has never held an election that allows citizens to choose their board of directors. Instead, 20 of the 22 directors of the District are politicians appointed by local city councils or county commissioners. For example, the Mayor of Broomfield was appointed to the board by Broomfield City Council.  These politicians then appoint two professional engineers to serve with the Board Continue reading

Oct 10

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

Debate on county TABOR ballot issue

  • By CHARLES ASHBY

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Grand Junction resident Dennis Simpson will debate each other Wednesday on why voters should approve or reject a measure to exempt state grants the county receives from revenue limits set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Pugliese has said passing Ballot Issue 1A next month would give the county more flexibility in its annual budget, and allow the county to act as the fiscal agent to help nonprofits get state grants.

Simpson, however, has said the county doesn’t need to exempt that money, which amounts to about $21 million of the county’s $165 million annual budget. He said the county already has the ability to accept money on behalf of nonprofits, and if there are issues with state grant revenues coming up against the TABOR cap, the county can ask voters each time, as the constitutional amendment allows.

Under TABOR, any revenue — a fee or tax — state or local governments bring in unless otherwise exempted is subject to the amendment’s revenue cap, which limits year-over-year growth. Some of the money the state collects is given to local governments in the form of grants, money that already is counted under the state’s TABOR cap.

TABOR exempts federal money that the state and local governments receive, but it doesn’t exempt money local governments get from the state.

TABOR only specifies that pass-through money isn’t counted under a local government’s cap when that money is collected by one government and goes to another, such as property taxes collected by a county that goes directly to a city, town or school district within its boundaries. Oftentimes, state grants to nonprofit groups require those groups to use a local government to act as a fiscal agent for pass-through money, but TABOR is silent on whether that money should be counted under the TABOR cap.

According to Colorado Counties Inc., a statewide lobbying and advocacy group, voters in 51 of the state’s 64 counties have approved blanket TABOR revenue limit waivers.

Voters in several other counties have approved TABOR exemptions for specific programs, such as revenues that fund their human services departments, or for specific projects, such as water resources or transportation projects. Still others have exempted specific revenue sources, such as non-tax money.

Overall, only one county — Weld — has never passed any form of TABOR exemption. Other counties have passed specific exemptions for specific projects, including one in Mesa County. In 2001, voters here approved exempting $3 million the county received in a railroad grant to build the 30 Road underpass.

If voters approve the ballot measure, Mesa County would be the first in Colorado to exempt only state grants.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/debate-on-county-tabor-ballot-issue/article_b20e6c8a-cb83-11e8-811e-10604b9f6eda.html

Sep 13

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District proposes tax-restoration measure on Nov. 6 ballot

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Greenway Foundation educator Kate Ronan, right, checks Annalena Tylicki’s net for bugs and other living creatures she collected in the South Platte River during a SPREE day camp at the restored Johnson-Habitat Park on June 9, 2015. The restoration, which included improvements to reduce flood risk, was paid for partly by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

By JON MURRAY | jmurray@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

 

In an election season full of proposed tax hikes, one of the less familiar ballot measures facing voters across the Denver metro area this fall comes from a regional district that aids dozens of cities and counties in flood control.

The little-known Urban Drainage and Flood Control District hasn’t asked for an increase in its property tax since its formation nearly five decades ago. That means it has actually lost ground, with its tax rate falling by 44 percent since the early 1990s under revenue growth limits in the voter-passed Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, the district’s Ballot Issue 7G asks voters across its jurisdiction for permission to restore its full taxing authority, as many cities, counties and other special districts have done. The district covers 1,600 square miles across Denver and all or part of Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Next year, a partial increase is expected to generate $14.9 million. Further increases within the restored limit would be left up to the district’s board, made up of elected officials from around the region, the UDFCD says.

Once that happens, the full tax increase would raise an estimated $24 million a year, doubling the current funding level for projects and programs. The hit for the owner of a $400,000 home would be an extra $13 a year.

The flood-control district faces no organized opposition to its proposed tax increase, but it does face a big challenge: Most voters don’t know what the district is or what it does.

To read the rest of this Denver Post story, click (HERE):

 

Sep 05

Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

Miller: Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

There would be four additional income tax brackets on top of the current 4.63 percent single rate for individual filers, with a top rate of 8.25 percent, along with a 30 percent increase in the corporate income tax.

To stabilize school district property tax revenues, the writers of the amendment went into the property tax laws and did some embellishing there, too. They should have stopped with the income tax.

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, is the foundation of our property tax system. Gallagher specifies that 45 percent of all property taxes paid statewide are paid on residential properties and that 55 percent are paid on nonresidential properties. That 45:55 proportion is the “Gallagher ratio”.

Continue reading

Aug 30

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

County would reap benefits, they say

Nonprofit leaders back TABOR ballot issue

Carol Skubic, secretary and treasure, left, and Sharon Raggio, CEO of Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital, right, answer questions about the county’s proposed TABOR exemption outside the West Springs Hospital on Tuesday.

A ballot measure that would allow Mesa County to accept state grants as a revenue stream outside strict governmental growth limits could open potential funding sources for local projects, ranging from a psychiatric hospital facility to a new space for a nonprofit that services developmentally disabled adults, advocates said at a Tuesday press conference.

Leaders of Mind Springs Health, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations called the event Tuesday morning, the day after the Mesa County Commission voted to place Issue 1A on the November ballot.

The ballot issue involves Mesa County’s relationship with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits governmental income, including grants, unless an exception is made. Mesa County voters in November will decide whether the county can permanently make that exception for state grants, which are often applied for by nonprofits using the county government as a pass-through agency.

The still-under-construction Mind Springs Health psychiatric hospital project became a case study on the legal tangle last year when the county decided not to apply for a $5 million grant that could have made a major dent in the group’s fundraising goals in anticipation of going over TABOR limits.

“Had we been able to partner with the county as well as other communities in being able to secure some TABOR funds, that would have really put us over the top (of fundraising efforts),” said Mind Springs President and CEO Sharon Raggio at the event outside the facility.

HopeWest President and CEO Christy Whitney said she hopes voters will agree.

“There’s a lot of state money available to make some amazing things happen in Mesa County, but we have just fundamentally not been able to access it because of the really outdated view of the TABOR law,” Whitney said.

Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said both her organization and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership are behind the measure, in part because they believe that local nonprofits provide important services that serve the workforce, that the ballot measure is in “the spirit”of TABOR, and that state grants are partially funded by severance taxes that local businesses pay.

“It’s only right that those dollars can come back and help the nonprofits that are doing the good work,” Schwenke said.

https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/nonprofit-leaders-back-tabor-ballot-issue/article_ca9261ce-ab50-11e8-9dbe-10604b9f7e7c.html

Aug 30

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Arvada, Lakewood each put spending measures on November ballot that avoid tax increases

Measures would fund transportation improvements, open space purchases

By JOHN AGUILAR | jaguilar@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: August 28, 2018 at 6:11 pm |

Suburban voters west of Denver will weigh in on more than $100 million in municipal spending proposals on this fall’s ballot, with Arvada residents set to vote on two major road projects and residents in Lakewood ready to decide whether the city can hang on to extra revenues to fix roads, buy open space property and purchase law enforcement equipment.

Each ballot measure was sent to the Nov. 6 ballot Monday night by a vote of the city council in its community. Neither would raise taxes.

Lakewood’s measure asks voters if the city can retain and spend $12.5 million in revenues it collected in 2017 that exceed what the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, permits governments in Colorado to keep. The measure also asks if the city can do the same with any excess money it collects through fiscal year 2025. Continue reading

Aug 30

Poudre Valley Fire Protection District, Community Meetings Aug. 30/Sept. 4

Poudre Valley Fire Protection District, Community Meetings Aug. 30/Sept. 4

The PVFPD stands to lose at least $860,000 per year, on an ongoing basis starting in 2020.
Poudre Fire Authority Logo

Madeline Noblett, Public Affairs and Communication Manager

Residents and owners of property within the Poudre Valley Fire Protection District are invited to two upcoming public meetings at which officials will provide information about a possible ballot question voters may be asked to consider for November’s mid-term election.

The meetings are 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and open to the public. The first meeting is Aug. 30 in Laporte at Station 7, 2817 N. Overland Trail. The second meeting is Sept. 4 in Timnath at Station 8, 4800 Signal Tree Drive, in the station’s community room. There is no need to RSVP.

The Poudre Valley Fire Protection District Board is considering a ballot question that would ask district residents and property owners to annually adjust the District-assessed mill levy – a term referring to the property tax rate – so the district may maintain its current level of funding. City of Fort Collins residents would not vote on the possible question.

The Poudre Valley Fire Protection District, or PVFPD, encompasses the Town of Timnath, the communities of Laporte and Bellvue, Horsetooth Reservoir, Redstone Canyon, and areas of unincorporated Larimer and Weld counties. Poudre Fire Authority was established in 1981 through an Intergovernmental Agreement between the PVFPD and the City of Fort Collins. Simply put, PFA’s firefighters provide services to people within Fort Collins and the PVFPD.

Because of a collision between the Gallagher Amendment and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, the PVFPD stands to lose at least $860,000 per year, on an ongoing basis starting in 2020. At this time, the PVFPD can’t specify how this would impact the District; that’s ultimately up to the PVFPD Board to decide. However, board members would likely have to consider a range of options that could include closing a fire station or eliminating positions. To learn more about the intersection of TABOR and Gallagher, watch this video from the nonprofit non-partisan Colorado Fiscal Institute: https://youtu.be/BXbrsdQQrZ8

Approved in 1992, TABOR demands that Colorado voters approve all tax increases. The Gallagher Amendment stipulates that residential property taxes are capped at 45 percent of the state’s total property tax revenue, while non-residential property taxes comprise the other 55 percent. Non-residential property is taxed at 29 percent of its value. Residential property is currently taxed at 7.2 percent, but the residential rate can fluctuate to maintain the 45-55 split. It may go down to 6.11 percent, which could lead to the loss in revenue for the PVFPD.

Poudre Valley Fire Protection District, Community Meetings Aug. 30/Sept. 4

Aug 15

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways

In this Jan. 7 photo, traffic backs up on Interstate 70 in Colorado, a familiar scene on the main highway connecting Denver to the mountains. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

(Re: “Only one ballot issue can tackle Colorado’s transportation challenges,” Aug. 10.)

Let’s fix our roads without a massive 21 percent increase of our state sales tax. The collaborative cronyists’ proposal, “Let’s Go Colorado” — a huge tax increase, allegedly for transportation — hurts everyday, hardworking Coloradans who are chasing their American dream.  If the politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties behind the proposal, get their way, we’ll pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax on basic items that make our lives better such as diapers, toilet paper and school supplies.

When enjoying a craft brew with colleagues, buying a good book or meeting friends for dinner, we would pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  And those new school clothes, soccer balls, books and dance shoes for the kids?  You got it!  An additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  If passed, Colorado would be the 13th-highest state in the country for taxes at the register.

Politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties are selling this new tax as only cents on the dollar.  Here’s the reality: Currently, Colorado state sales tax sits at 2.9 percent.  Let’s Go Colorado would increase the state sales tax to 3.52 percent, which is a significant 21 percent increase.  And it’s a regressive tax that disproportionately hurts people in the toughest situations and who trying to get ahead, such as the poor, vulnerable, elderly and our young people.

There is a better way to get Colorado going. “Fix Our Damn Roads” is a ballot initiative that directs the state legislature to dedicate a portion of Colorado’s growing revenue to fix our roads and bridges, without increasing taxes. Colorado has the money.  Our revenue continues to increase.  Colorado is expected to collect an additional $1.29 billion next fiscal year, thanks to federal tax cuts, economic growth and a resurgent oil and gas industry.  Colorado has the money.

Gas taxes were created as a user tax.  The tax was charged at the pump and the tax revenue was to be used for our roads and bridges.  However, the state has been spending our gas tax money on pet projects and other stuff.  Per an Institute of Energy Research report, 16 percent of federal gas tax money is siphoned off for non-road and bridge projects such as transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths and facilities, recreation trails, landscaping, environmental mitigation and transportation museums.  If the money would have gone to where it was promised and purposed, our roads and bridges would be in good condition and repair.

Let’s compare the two competing transportation ballot questions for this November.  Fix Our Damn Roads:  (1) Fixes our roads and bridges without a tax increase; (2) designates exactly where the money will be spent; (3) names the projects (From CDOT’S Tier One list) in the ballot measure; (4) honors the will of the people and TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; (5) does not include carve-outs for special interests, and (6) bonds for $3.5 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $5.2 billion to fix our roads and bridges.

Let’s Go Colorado: (1) Proposes a massive 21 percent state sales tax increase; (2) provides a goody bag of money for politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and interested parties to spend on pet projects; (3) lacks transparency and accountability to everyday, hardworking Coloradans, i.e. there are no specific projects named in the ballot measure; (4) includes language that money collected above the TABOR limits is not returned to the people; (5) includes an exemption for aviation and jet fuels, and (6) bonds for $6 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $9.4 billion.  Fix Our Damn Roads saves hardworking Coloradans at least $4.2 billion.

We all agree that our roads and bridges could use a little love.  Together, we can do this.  It’s time to Fix Our Damn Roads and let’s do it without a massive tax increase!

Kim Monson
Lone Tree

The author is a former city councilwoman for Lone Tree and co-hosts the “Americhicks — Molly Vogt & Kim Monson” radio show on KLZ 560 AM and the “WWII Project” on KEZW 1430.  

 

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways

Aug 09

Education tax measure makes the ballot

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News Release

MEDIA CONTACT: 303-860-6903

Julia Sunny

Julia.Sunny@sos.state.co.us

 

Education tax measure makes the ballot

DENVER, Aug. 9, 2018 — Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today that a proposed constitutional amendment that boosts income taxes to raise money for education made the ballot.

Total signatures received 179,390
Total invalid signatures 49,368
Total valid signatures 130,022

Initiative 93 is the first citizen-initiated ballot measure to make the Nov. 6 general election ballot. It involves a complex formula for raising income taxes among the state’s top earners to raise money for education.

Colorado law requires that ballot-measure backers turn in 98,492 valid voter signatures — 5 percent of the total of votes cast for all candidates in the last Secretary of State general election, which was in 2014.

In addition, the voter-approved Amendment 71 in 2016 changed the requirements for proposed constitutional amendments. The education measure must pass with a 55-percent majority rather than a simple majority in November, and supporters were required to collect 2 percent of their signatures in each of the state’s 35 Senate district. The attachment shows the breakdown in each Senate district.

Six other initiatives are still under review. The Secretary of State’s office received five initiative petitions on Monday and one on Aug. 3. The results of the review must be announced by Sept. 5.

To examine the measures, go to the Initiative Filings, Agendas & Results link on the Secretary of State web page and the first set of measures marked “signature line review.” When you click on each measure, there will be a link marked “hearing result.” Click on that link and the ballot titles will say whether it is a proposed change to the Colorado Constitution or state statute.

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Aug 09

Sales tax hike for transportation a regressive, unstable funding scheme

In November, Coloradans will likely be voting on a scheme to raise the state sales tax to support state and local transportation projects.

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes – used by permission

Unfortunately, raising sales taxes would hit all the wrong people, and provide a particularly unstable revenue stream to fund this infrastructure.

It’s no secret that Colorado’s roads and bridges are a mess.  They have failed to keep pace with the state’s growth, even as maintenance has fallen behind.

You either end your weekend trip to the mountains on Sunday morning or you pack a picnic lunch for the parking lot home.  Daily commutes on I-25 come to a standstill between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock.  And driving around Denver means a permanent sinking fund for front-end alignments.

We’re in this state of affairs because the Colorado legislature has consistently failed to spend money on roads and bridges instead of other pet projects.  This year, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 in an attempt to address the problem, but almost everyone agrees that the paltry spending past the first two years is an inadequate solution.

In response, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Contractors Association have proposed raising the state sales tax from 2.90 percent to 3.52 percent, and authorizing up to $6 billion in bonds.  The additional revenue would be divided among state highways, local governments, and multi-modal (transit) projects. Continue reading