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The original item was published from 10/9/2019 5:42:00 PM to 1/14/2020 7:40:15 AM.

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Financial Challenges

Posted on: July 31, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Jefferson County Ballot Question 1A

On Tuesday, July 23, the Board of County Commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize a public vote on whether the county can keep taxes, grants and all other revenue that it collects in excess of limits instituted from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and other applicable state statutes.

Each registered voter can decide this issue for him- or herself as part of the November 5, 2019 election. The ballot language to be presented to voters is as follows:

Without creating any new tax or increasing the current authorized maximum county mill levy of 21.478 without further voter approval, shall Jefferson County be permitted to retain and spend or reserve all revenues received during 2020 and expiring after 2026 (7 years), notwithstanding limitations on spending and revenue contained in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution (TABOR) and applicable state statues, provided that, the maximum amount which the county may retain and spend or reserve above such limits in 2020 may not exceed $16.1 million (voters should be aware that due to existing spending and revenue limits in TABOR in 2019, a single-family home valued at $400,000 received a reduction in property taxes of approximately $9 a month/$105 year); and shall the county be permitted to retain and spend or reserve beginning in 2027 and thereafter an amount of county revenue that exceeds current spending and revenue limitations but is no greater than the excess local revenues cap, which continues to limit future growth as provided in resolution no. CC19-270, provided that any non-property tax revenue received in 2027 or thereafter may be retained and spent or reserved, notwithstanding limitations on spending and revenue contained in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and applicable state statues; and shall such revenue be used to fund the cost of county government for:

  • Providing for the safety of the public including maintaining adequate jail beds, staffing the District Attorney's Office, adequate patrol personnel, and wildfire mitigation;
  • Maintaining roads, bridges and other new transportation improvements;
  • Preserving public facilities and infrastructure including building security and maintenance; and
  • Providing services traditionally offered by Jefferson County and other Colorado county governments and statutorily required services,

With such spending to be reviewed and decided upon by the duly elected Board of County Commissioners as part of the annual budget process?

The following pros and cons are taken from the Ballot Issue Notice (Blue Book) that was mailed to all registered voters:

Summary of Written Comments FOR Ballot Issue No. 1A:

Ballot Issue 1A asks voters to “de-bruce” Jeffco – or temporarily suspend the county’s TABOR cap. This would allow the county to invest tax revenues over the TABOR cap into essential county services that affect our quality of life, such as law enforcement, public safety, road and bridge maintenance, and more.

A yes vote on 1A will:

  • Avoid painful cuts to the county budget in 2020 and beyond, including the following proposed cuts for 2020:
    • the closure of an entire floor of the County jail, resulting in the loss of 288 jail beds and more criminals on the streets;
    • elimination of the emergency manager position, resulting in diminished capacity to respond to county-wide emergencies;
    • a reduction of the DA’s budget, with cuts to the elder abuse and special victims’ (including abused and neglected children) units;
    • a decrease to the Clerk & Recorder’s budget, resulting in increased risk to election integrity and delays in reporting election results;
    • cuts to wildfire mitigation; 
    • cuts to transportation with fewer repairs to roads and bridges;
    • cuts in funding to local nonprofits that serve aging adults and children; 
    • cuts to restaurant food-safety programs; and
    • cuts to natural resource management.
  • It will help Jeffco stay competitive by allowing the county to apply for millions of dollars in state matching funds for public safety, transportation and human services that now count against our TABOR cap. 1A would eliminate the cap on state grants in perpetuity.
  • It supports responsible stewardship. While 1A allows the collection up to the authorized county mill levy of 21.478, it also allows County Commissioners to collect less than the full amount so they don’t collect more money than needed for essential county services.
  • Voters retain the right to vote for any future tax increases.
  • Jefferson County Commissioners have a strong legacy of responsible stewardship. From 2000 through 2015, they voluntarily reduced the mill levy to reduce the burden on taxpayers and collect only what was needed. 
  • The cost of this initiative to taxpayers is modest:
    • In 2020, the cost to the average homeowner is projected to be $4.50 per month, and the cost to business owners is projected to be about $9.00 per month per $100,000 of business property value. For 2020, this represents an increase to the total county tax bill of about 2.7 percent.
    • Costs in 2021-2026 will depend on county budget needs and assessed property valuations. Commissioners will work closely with the community, elected officials and county staff to identify the annual cost of public safety, roads and other core county services and collect only the amount needed each year.
  • The ballot includes a sunset provision, giving residents a way to hold the county accountable. After seven years, county commissioners and residents can decide whether or not to extend the waiver.

Summary of Written Comments AGAINST Ballot Issue No. 1A:

The County doesn’t need more revenues; it can balance its budget by making further cuts to public safety, roads, bridges and other county services.
Twenty-seven years ago, Colorado voters put TABOR in place for a reason. While 80 percent of Colorado counties have already de-bruced to pay for essential county services, Jefferson County needs to stick to its guns and continue to support TABOR restrictions.

Families and businesses will pay more in taxes in 2020:

  • In 2020, the cost to the average homeowner is projected to be $4.50 per month and that’s too much money to ask homeowners to pay for essential county services. The cost to business owners is projected to be about $9.00 per month per $100,000 of business property value.
  • The cost in future years (2021-2026) may go up or down, depending on assessed property valuations and county budget needs.

Jefferson County enjoys reasonable and proven taxpayer protections through our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which lets county government tax and spend at common sense levels but prevents fiscal irresponsibility.
Don’t let the big-money campaign for 1A fool you – it is a tax increase and permanently eliminates these taxpayer protections. Vote NO on 1A!

Ballot Issue 1A will increase cost of housing both for homeowners and renters.

  • Jefferson County Ballot Issue 1A increases our county property taxes by 18%! Vote No on 1A property tax increase!
  • 1A permanently eliminates restrictions against excessive county fees and spending. Don't give up your right to have a say in higher fees and spending.
  • 1A eliminates limits on county government spending of our property taxes for years to come.  Vote No on 1A!
  • In August 2020, the Commissioners introduced a budget that INCREASES funding for the sheriff’s department. Clearly, there will be no “cuts” for the Sheriff. The “close the jails” campaign is just how politicians sell tax increases – it is not reality.
  • Ballot Issue 1A DOES NOT guarantee adequate funding for public safety, including maintaining adequate jail beds, staffing the District Attorney’s office, adequate patrol personnel and wildfire mitigation. 
  • Ballot Issue 1A DOES NOT guarantee adequate funding for maintaining roads and bridges.
  • Ballot Issue 1A hits business property owners 4x as hard as residential property owners, discouraging businesses from locating to Jeffco. Additional costs must be passed on to consumers, increasing the cost of goods and services. Vote NO on 1A!
  • Ballot Issue 1A property tax increases will likely be passed on to renters making housing less affordable. Ouch! 
  • For decades, Jefferson County has managed to balance its budget every year with taxpayer’s protections in place. Our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights allows a spending increase of nearly 4%, but the Commissioners state that is not enough and want a blank check. Vote NO on blank check 1A!

Do you have unlimited income to fund this blank check tax increase?
Vote No on 1A. Don’t let them eliminate the taxpayer protections that have served us well for decades.

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