The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is under attack. For at least a decade, Democrats in the Colorado legislature — backed by the Colorado Supreme Court in erroneous rulings and occasionally supported by faithless Republicans — have thwarted some of the protections afforded to Coloradans by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Ex-Basalt mayor touts new ‘social capital’ group
- John Fayhee, Special to the Aspen Daily News
Tim Belinski, developer of Willits Town Center, supports Rick Stevens’ idea of starting a social capital group in Basalt.
Madeleine Osberger/Aspen Daily News
A potentially positive proposal to salve some of the wounds caused by the contentious and increasingly expensive TABOR controversy in Basalt may end up butting heads with the same town government that had been inadvertently collecting property tax revenues for 10 years in violation of the state’s constitution.
All told, town officials estimate that about $2 million had been collected illegally, according to the fine print of TABOR — the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights — which was added to the state constitution by citizens’ referendum in 1992.
TABOR restricts revenues for all levels of government — state, local, special districts and schools. Under TABOR, state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval.
Two years after TABOR was enacted, Basalt voters approved a property tax rate of 6.151 mills. Soon thereafter, given the increase of real estate values in town, that rate was lowered, finally bottoming out at 2.56 mills in 2010. As real estate values struggled to recover from the Great Recession, Basalt was forced to gradually raise the mill levy to meet its basic operating costs.
DENVER — Although he campaigned on a promise to defend the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) despite his personal opinion of the nearly three decades old constitutional amendment, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser made his first move in the opposite direction by letting a deadline pass to argue an ongoing TABOR case in federal court.
Weiser had until Tuesday to ask that the entire circuit court hear the case after a 3-judge panel from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling. The lower court had ruled that local governments do not have the right to sue.
“It’s disappointing that AG Weiser is not fully following through on his campaign promises,” said Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action. “The rubber will hit the road when the merits of the TABOR case are heard, and he actually has to defend the constitution.”
Fields added that everyone should be concerned that Weiser chose not to defend the state’s constitution knowing he is not a TABOR supporter.
TABOR is a constitutional amendment passed in 1992 that, among other things, requires voter consent for new or increased taxes and debt, as well as limiting government revenues to a formula of population growth plus inflation. Under TABOR, governments in Colorado are required to refund excess revenue back to taxpayers, or get voter approval to keep it.
In 1994, two years after TABOR was enacted, Basalt residents voted 220 to 42 in favor of lifting TABOR revenue limits, thus allowing the town to keep any excess revenues it brings in over the regular revenue restrictions in TABOR. Numerous taxing authorities in Colorado have asked voters to do this to avoid having to pay out refunds when revenues exceed expectations.
Proposition CC, on the November 2019 ballot, gives government all extra tax monies collected above the TABOR limits – forever!
Vote No on Prop CC.