by T.L. James | 10:37 pm, April 24, 2012 | Comments Off
In case those of you in my neck of the woods (Conifer Mountain, King’s Valley, and Richmond Hill) missed it, there is a special district election for Mountain Water and Sanitation coming up on May 8. It is a mail-in ballot only, so you need to take action if you want to stop the proposed de-Bruceing of the special district.
Aside from the election of two board members, the ballot covers two issues [PDF]:
- Issue A) An increase in taxes in the district by a specific amount, to repay a $2M loan to fund the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant;
- Issue B) Removal of Taxpayer Bill of Rights restrictions requiring a vote of the district residents to increase revenues.
This presentation [PDF] helpfully explains that if voters don’t approve Issue A, they will see an equivalent fee added to their bills. Thanks to the Colorado Supreme Court, the district can do the latter without the permission of the residents…seeing as how a fee isn’t a tax, although changes in either cause changes in revenue. Sigh. But at least, as they point out in both PDFs above, the increase can be deducted from taxes in an itemized return if it is in the form of a property tax rather than a fee on the monthly bill.
The de-Bruceing measure is more troublesome, and irksome. Both of the PDFs from Mountain Water and Sanitation mention it in passing, omitting any detail about what Issue B entails and what it really means. Unfortunately, the text of the issue is not available online and I don’t have my “blue book” copy accessible, but it would waive TABOR restrictions on the district’s revenue practices. Future improvements to the water and sanitation infrastructure could be made at will, without approval from the voters of the district of any associated increases in our property taxes.
The district maintains that they need the ability to promise repayment off of stable tax-based revenues (vs. apparently unstable user fees and consumption revenues) to secure favorable loan terms for future projects. Why such promises cannot be made after first securing the permission of district voters is beyond me — perhaps it’s just too cumbersome for the district to comply with the state Constitution.
Or perhaps the district just doesn’t want the voters to have the option to decline future projects the way they and their fellow Conifer-area voters have repeatedly shot down efforts to raise taxes for an unneeded recreation district. This is the irksome part of Issue B, the fact that the proponent’s view included in the blue book used the same economically ignorant “free money” language as was used to try to sell last year’s rec district initiative. News flash: there is no “free money” from the state or federal governments, it all comes from the pockets of other taxpayers and/or with strings attached.
- YES on Issue A (Property Tax Increase): I’m against tax increases on principle, but if we’re going to be hit with an increase of an equivalent amount regardless, might as well have it in a tax-deductable form.
- NO on Issue B (TABOR Waiver): I don’t see any compelling arguments for why de-Bruceing is necessary – if future tax increases are needed, let the district bring them to the voters for approval like the state Constitution requires.
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