Aurora officials last week were wise to walk away from an appeal of a February court ruling that invalidated the creation of a special tax district for the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Conference Center.
The creation of the district was a farce and clearly subverted the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which stipulates that local governments cannot raise taxes without voter approval.
Only one voter cast a ballot in the election in 2011 that created the taxing district, which would have collected increased lodger taxes and admission taxes on land set aside for the hotel.
That voter wasn’t even a resident of the city but a representative of the owner of the land where the hotel is to be built.
In February, Adams County District Court Judge Ted C. Tow threw out the election, saying Aurora’s interpretation of TABOR was a “mockery of the procedure.”
Amazingly, Aurora fought back, appealing the decision.
The city’s eyes perhaps were blinded by the millions of dollars that could have come from the tax subsidies and not focused on the law.
One estimate is that the enhanced admission and lodger’s taxes would have brought upwards of $121 million over 30 years. Aurora says the figure was lower.
Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and the city quietly dismissed the appeal. Continue reading