Ex-Basalt mayor touts new ‘social capital’ group


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.

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