By Duffy Hayes
Saturday, May 4, 2013
In May 2007, Mesa County took the unprecedented step of deciding — without voter approval — to exclude its local sales taxes from revenue limit calculations set forth in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Six years later, current and former county staff say the county did so with unanimous consent of the three county commissioners.
One of those commissioners, though, vehemently denies that she ever signed off on the plan, or that she participated in the meeting where, the current and former officials say, the decision was made.
“I never participated in a meeting where this was discussed. I was never asked to support such a scheme and I never gave my approval to implement it,” former Commissioner Janet Rowland wrote in an email to The Daily Sentinel.
“I never would have gone for that — ever,” she said in a subsequent interview.
Then-County Administrator Jon Peacock says she did. So, too, does county Finance Director Marcia Arnhold, as does current Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, who was one of the three commissioners said to have given unanimous consent to the change.
All three refer to a May 2007 meeting in which Peacock, Arnhold and, according to them and Acquafresca, all three commissioners discussed the possible change, with attorney Dee Wisor on the phone from Denver. Wisor was solicited for a legal opinion about the possibility of excluding sales taxes and provided a case for the change based on the fact that Mesa County voters had approved their sales tax in 1981, well before voters statewide approved TABOR.
“I remember that we gave direction. And it was unanimous amongst all three,” Acquafresca said recently. Continue reading