Glenwood Springs could participate in coordinated ‘de-Gallagherize’ election

Ike Fredregill
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs Post Independent news graphic

A question regarding local property taxes could appear on November’s ballot after the Glenwood Springs City Council voted Thursday to keep the option open.

During the council’s regular meeting, council members discussed the option to participate in a coordinated election later this year with the intent of asking voters to “de-Gallagherize” the state’s constitution.

The Gallagher Amendment mandates that no more than 55 percent of property tax revenues can be generated by residential properties, city documents state.

Under the amendment, the portion of residential property that is subject to taxation, aka assessed value, decreases when home values grow faster than business values, meaning homeowners pay proportionately less than business owners.

“As someone who has a small commercial property and a residential property, the tax difference is devastating,” Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup said. 

The motion submitted by Councilor Charlie Willman and seconded by Councilor Paula Stepp only directs city staff to inform the Garfield County clerk the city might participate in the coordinated election, leaving the council with an opportunity to change their minds at a later date.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon said if the city did participate, it could add a series of questions that — if approved by the voters — would prevent the city’s residential property tax percentage from dropping below its current ratio.

The questions would primarily act as a backup if the statewide election question to “de-Gallagherize” the constitution failed, Hanlon said.

While most councilors supported the effort as a whole, resident Monica Wolny said during the public comment portion of the meeting she disagreed with the city’s involvement.

“I really don’t believe the city should have anything to do with this,” Wolny said. “I believe in keeping Gallagher and revising it, but at the city level, we shouldn’t touch it.”

Councilor Tony Hershey also voiced opposition to the city’s participation in the coordinated election.

The council voted 6-1 to notify the Garfield County clerk of the city’s intent to participate in the coordinated election, with Hershey voting against.

Before addressing agenda items, the council opened the meeting to public comment on non-agenda items, during which Green Joint owner Dan Sullivan said he would the council to consider restricting the number of marijuana retailers operating within city limits.

“We’re the longest-tenured operator in the Roaring Fork valley,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a great ride, but I’m finding some uneven competitive landscape.” 

He explained other cities have capped the number of retailers and liquor licenses are also limited.

Mayor Jonathan Godes and Councilor Rick Voorhees said they agreed there is a need to address a limit, but the council did not set a date when the topic might be discussed.

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