Preserving TABOR

Once again, voters across Colorado stated they wished to retain the tax protections provided by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

By a 55-45 percent margin, voters statewide said they wished to have the state refund excess revenues back to taxpayers.

Proposition CC on Tuesday’s ballot would have allowed the state to keep somewhere between $550 million and $1.6 billion (depending on estimates) to be used for K-12 schools, higher education and transportation over the next three years.

However, with Tuesday’s vote, the funds must be returned to taxpayers through reduced taxes and/or refunds. Estimates of those refunds range from $20 to about $250, depending on taxes paid.

Under the control of Democratic majorities, state legislators in the state House and state Senate earlier this year voted to put the question on the November ballot.

TABOR sets the amount of increase in revenues the state can collect and use, based on inflation and increase in population. Revenues collected beyond this amount must be returned to taxpayers.

Voters decided that permanently removing one of TABOR’s key provisions was not acceptable.

The vote was a clear message from taxpayers that they wish to keep TABOR’s restrictions and protections in place.

Salida joins CMC

By a 58-42 percent margin, Chaffee County voters followed the state on Proposition CC. However, at the same time voters in Salida School District R-32-J approved joining the Colorado Mountain College tax district by a 60-40 percent margin.

Voters in the existing CMC district voted 72-28 percent to officially accept Salida R-32-J into the college district.

The result means that starting in January, property owners will be paying 3.997 mills in additional property taxes to the CMC district.

Opponents of joining CMC pointed to what was termed a lack of transparency by the R-32-J school board in not including the mill levy in ballot language and by college officials for stating that the language was not necessary because it was an existing tax of the CMC district.

But the margin of victory indicates voters were willing to look beyond the ballot question and were not concerned by the spat earlier this year between CMC and the Buena Vista School District over terms of the sale of the college building at the Buena Vista airport.

The last expansion of the CMC district came in 1982 with the addition of Routt County. The Salida district now joins districts in Pitkin, Garfield, Summit, Lake, Eagle and Routt counties.

The vote sets the stage for an expanded class program in Salida starting with the new year at in-district fees.

Just what those classes are will need to be determined, in part by community demand. They will be limited in scope by the lack of time between now and mid-January when college classes would normally begin for the spring semester.

Tuesday’s vote also sets the stage for a discussion and possible vote next November on a new building for the Salida district.

Earlier this year R-32-J officials had discussed a possible new building for the school district to include space for CMC classes and programs.

Tuesday’s vote and in particular the vote margin can be seen as something of a vote of confidence from the community to the school district for students’ performance on statewide tests and the recognition given to Salida schools.

Congratulations to all those who worked for 5A, to the school board and CMC officials.

Now the work to put together a higher education program that fits Salida’s needs begins.

— MJB