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.
Any amount above that estimation is to be refunded to residents. In addition to refunding the money, TABOR also calls for adjusting the rate of the tax so that it brings in the projected amount. Voters can override the provision and give the taxing entity permission to keep extra revenue.
White said he was alerted to the “estimation” provision recently while reading a story about the Fort Collins City Council’s realization that it didn’t accurately estimate its first year of tax collections for its Keep Fort Collins Great tax.
Fort Collins voters approved the 0.85 percent sales tax in 2010. It was projected to bring in $18.7 million but brought in $19.9 million in its first year.
“The town is facing a potential refunding of that money,” White told the board. “We need to inform the public that we are dealing with it and that it can be overridden by voter approval.”
Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa reiterated White’s concern.
“Fort Collins is dealing with it. Others communities will be dealing with it. We will be dealing with it,” Jirsa said. “We are at the forefront. You will be hearing more from us soon.”