By the Clear Creek Board of Commissioners
Last week the Clear Creek Board of Commissioners passed resolutions opposing Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 on November’s ballot.
Normally, commissioners do not take formal positions on ballot issues. These three issues would have such a radical impact on state and local governments’ ability to deliver services that we felt it was important to publicly state our opposition.
Locally, the impact of these three measures would be significant. The county’s revenues would drop more than 25 percent. Since our largest expenditures are for law enforcement and Road and Bridge, those services would see the greatest cuts. All of the other service providers in the county, including the Clear Creek Fire Authority, the Evergreen Fire Protection District, the Clear Creek School District, the library district, Open Space and your water and wastewater districts, will face similar cuts. It is not reasonable to think those providers would be able to maintain anything close to their current levels of service and readiness.
More troubling is these measures would remove or severely limit our local communities’ ability to decide for themselves what level of service they would like their government agencies to provide. When the Tabor Amendment was passed in 1992, there was a provision that allowed local communities to “opt out” or “de-Bruce” from some of the more controversial elements of Tabor.
Every community is still required to place any increase in taxes on a ballot and let the voters decide on individual issues. This has been good for all of us because it requires governments to develop solid plans and explanations for any increase in tax revenue they seek.
Good ideas find support. Bad ideas fail at the ballot box. 60, 61 and 101 would invalidate all local de-Brucing votes and severely limit a community’s ability to decide for itself about what it expects from its governments.
The state government would face an even more difficult situation. Amendments to Colorado’s constitution and requirements to partially fund federal social service programs predetermine how most of the state’s funds get spent.
The only areas that are not predetermined and have significant budgets are higher education and corrections. Funding for our colleges and universities has already been cut dramatically due to the recession. Further cuts would have to come from the jail and public safety budgets. State funding for K-12 education would also have to be reduced, even though the constitution doesn’t allow it.
We do not understand how the proponents of the ballot issues can assume the state can provide funding to local school districts to offset local property tax revenue decreases when the state itself will be experiencing revenue decreases.
Tax laws in Colorado are complex and often in conflict with each other. 60, 61 and 101 will not help, and we hope that voters will send them down in defeat.
Please let us know if you’d like more information about their impact on the county.