November 26, 2019
Last week, a New York Times reporter reached out to ask if I had heard that the village of Amelia, Ohio was dissolving over a tax increase. Facing an unpopular new tax, voters went to the polls and just… abolished their local government.
I wasn’t aware of the drama bubbling up in Amelia (or in nearby Newtonsville, also dissolving over a new tax), but I wasn’t surprised, either. As the resulting Times article notes, at least 130 municipalities dissolved between 2000 and 2011, without, presumably, seeing the communities descend into anarchy. The loss of Amelia and Newtonsville brings the count of recently dissolved Ohio municipalities to 14. So what’s going on, and what do taxes have to do with it?
In most of the country, the governmental hierarchy is relatively straightforward: states are divided into counties, and those counties contain some range of municipalities—cities, towns, villages, boroughs, townships, hamlets, and the like. But, especially outside more densely populated regions, you can also find vast tracts of unincorporated land, where no (or limited) municipal government exists below the county level. Here, core services like police, fire, and emergency services, along with road maintenance and other government functions, are provided by the county or even the state, while more municipal-oriented services—water and sewer or waste management, for instance—are either privately provided or non-existent.
A bill that sponsors say would add revenue to funding for Colorado’s roads and bridges without raising taxes was shelved by Democrats in a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 044 was postponed indefinitely by the Democratic-controlled State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The bill would allocate 10 percent of revenue from sales and use taxes on vehicles toward the state’s highway users tax fund and local governments. That revenue would be moved from the general fund under the legislation.
A fiscal note for the bill says it would transfer $366.3 million in fiscal 2021 from the general fund to the highway users tax fund, and $380.7 million in the following year.
Let us decipher Matt Gray’s comments (…”we need new revenue to go along with it.”)
with our 6-word analysis:
“We’re going to raise your taxes”
How will Colorado pay for better roads if taxpayers don’t want to pay for better roads?
Don’t believe us? Ask one.
Colorado voters love saying no to giving up more of their money to fix traffic and roads.
Don’t believe us? Look at the state’s history on ballot issues for roads.
Republican lawmakers want to continue using general fund money — the money that the state already collects and spends.
“This building keeps saying to the people of Colorado, ‘give us more money,’ and the people of Colorado are saying, ‘show me you’re going to spend the money we’re already given you on the things we care about, like roads and bridges,'” said Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.
Lundeen proposed a bill that would have brought back an old Colorado law that used existing money the state already collected.