Oct 16

Town may need to refund $400K

By David Persons Trail-Gazette

POSTED:   10/14/2016 09:42:15 AM MDT

The Estes Park Town Board was notified by Town Attorney Greg White on Tuesday night in an executive session that the town might be in violation of parts of the TABOR amendment.

The Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, was an amendment to the state constitution passed statewide by voters in 1992. Its intent was to limit annual growth in state and local tax revenues and have all tax increases voted on by residents.

However, one of the little known provisions of TABOR is the requirement that taxing entities must provide information in advance of the vote about how much tax is estimated to be generated in the first year.

 

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Oct 13

EDITORIAL: TABOR lawsuit misguided

50354_2201459078_608064_nPUEBLO CITY Schools (D60) Board of Education has joined a lawsuit that would overturn the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Pueblo County District 70 joined the federal case earlier.

Educators have been led to believe that repealing TABOR’s state and local tax and spending restrictions would trickle down into more legislative funding of the public schools. Not so fast. The state’s recent budget history says otherwise.

Since approved by the voters in 1992, TABOR has done what it promised to do, which is to require voter approval before taxes can be raised and to tie revenue increases to Colorado’s overall economic growth unless voters permit.

In fact, state revenues and spending have increased every year under TABOR even under the cap of combined growth in population and inflation.

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Oct 12

Letter: Don’t be misled by TABOR haters

In his Oct. 10 column, John Young got it wrong. Among the many poor interpretations he offers to oppose the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights is that it forces “crazy things like ask(ing) voters for permission to spend money they’ve authorized.” Much of his opinion piece attacks the part of TABOR that requires governments to get voter approval if the proponents of a tax increase don’t calculate the increase correctly.

However, that TABOR requirement leads directly to greater government accountability and transparency. That’s good.

Young misdirects his anger at the duplicate vote. He should instead direct his impatience at the inaccurate information offered by the tax increase proponents.

The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights requires that you know what the cost will be for any new program or expansion of an existing program. You can weigh whether the price is worth it. The voter then can make an informed decision.

No one wants to give proponents of any measure the incentive to underestimate the cost. Yet, if low-balling the cost helps the measure to pass, there would be pressure for proponents to fudge the numbers. Better to get it right.

Whenever government will grow faster than the automatic increases allowed every year, the voter should know by how much. Voters must demand strict accountability and honesty in creating the estimates. Don’t let tax increase proponents hide the real cost of the programs; don’t let Young mislead you.

There are people who want government to increase its reach into our lives and to spend more of your money on public goods; these folks will always oppose the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. Let them present their arguments fairly and truthfully, but they should not argue for eliminating honesty and accountability.

Penn R. Pfiffner, chairman of the TABOR Committee, is a former legislator who has been involved in fiscal policy issues for over three decades.

Sep 29

One Rural Colorado District Sees Closing Funding Gap As Voter Education Challenge

RE-1 Valley Superintendent Jan DeLay giving a presentation discussing the finances of the school district. By building more understanding of the situation, she believes she can build momentum for a $2 million ballot measure for funding.

Jenny Brundin/CPR News

How schools are funded in Colorado is so complex, there’s a joke that only five people in the state truly understand it.

Superintendent Jan DeLay in northeastern Colorado’s RE-1 Valley School District is on a mission to change that. She’s convinced that once average citizens understand why so many districts like hers are in a fiscal crisis, they’ll approve a local tax measure on the ballot to fund RE-1.

The money would be would be used to attract and keep teachers and to expand academic opportunities for students through technology, textbooks and other programs.

The last time the district passed a mill levy was in 2005, for $500,000 to update buildings, technology, textbooks and transportation. DeLay says that money is gone within the first couple of months in the new school year. Continue reading

Aug 17

Letter: ‘The rest simply pay for it’

My wife and I have lived in Pueblo West for nearly seven years.

We bought property and built a new home here because of the rural feel, the privacy, the huge vistas and to escape the many downfalls of the city of Pueblo.

Not the least of which was the ceaseless badgering by city council and other government entities for more money for pet projects.

Ballot tax initiatives were repeated ad nauseum due to a refusal to take no for an answer. We grew weary of the arrogance associated with that mindset and having to repeatedly fend off the never ending assaults on our wallets.

Recently, we have witnessed an increase in efforts of this ilk here in Pueblo West. Continue reading