Glenwood Springs formally opposes ballot issues |

Glenwood Springs formally opposes ballot issues

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Man Inserting a Voting Form into a Ballot Box
Getty Images/Digital Vision | Digital Vision

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing three tax-cutting amendments on the November ballot.

Glenwood became the next municipality to join the growing list of staunch opposition from several entities in the past month against Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. The measures propose to individually and collectively reduce or restrict both state and local revenues in several different ways.

According to Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel, the estimated impact for 2011 would reduce Glenwood Springs’ general budget by approximately $1.5 million. The largest piece of that would be from the city’s general fund and would also impact several other areas including the street tax fund, the bus tax fund, capital projects fund, and the acquisition and improvements fund.

“That is a significant amount of money for the city,” Hecksel said. “Clearly if we were to lose that amount of money in a single year it would have impacts on us from an operational standpoint.”

Amendment 60 aims to lower property taxes. While that may sound good to property owners, doing so would require government enterprises, such as the Glenwood Springs Utilities, to pay property taxes for their respective facilities. And enterprise funds such as sewer, water and sanitation, which are funded through user fees, would likely increase.

Amendment 60 would also repeal the so-called de-Brucing measures that have been approved in the years since Colorado’s Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) was passed in 1992. De-Brucing allows governments to keep and spend tax dollars above certain yearly limits. This amendment would cancel the voter authorized TABOR override and would require a voter-approved override every four years.

Councilor Leo McKinney took issue with Amendment 60.

“These three issues, particularly amendment 60, seem to take the control from the local people and put it in the state’s hands,” McKinney said. “People in this city vote for things that we have and if this Amendment 60 passes, the state is going to come in and usurp that power of the people.

“I think that’s just wrong,” he continued. “People in their local areas should be able to vote on how their money is spent.”

Amendment 61 would require voter approval to allow local governments or school districts to borrow money. It also aims to limit the form, term and amounts borrowed by government entities. Major projects needing multi-year funding would be difficult, or in some cases impossible, for cities or school districts to undertake, unless the state could pay for the projects.

“If we want good, functioning infrastructure we need to pay for it, we need to support it and at some point it becomes a responsibility of citizens to support that,” said councilor Shelley Kaup.

Councilor Russ Arensman said that while it’s difficult to be against cutting taxes, these issues are not simply about cutting taxes. He argued that cities, school districts, and special districts across the state have, over the past two decades, exempted themselves from the TABOR requirements and have approved things from school bond issues to municipal bonding issues, such as the one for the $23 million Glenwood Wastewater Treatment Plant project.

“Most of these things were approved by votes of the people, and this measure simply overturns all of that and turns the clock back to 1993,” Arensman said. “It’s just a terribly disruptive set of proposals that is being presented to the voters as a simple tax-cutting measure, and it’s far more dangerous and devastating than that.”

Proposition 101 aims to cut vehicle registration fees, state income taxes and telecommunications fees, which opponents argue would potentially cost state and local governments billions of dollars in revenue. The proposition proposes to reduce registration fees to a straight $10 annual fee. It would also reduce telecommunication fees, and those opposed say that would have a huge impact on the city’s budget.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Sturges called the three measures “dangerous” because of the simplicity in which they approach some of the issues.

“I hope that everybody looks at these amendments during their review of the ballot and understands that the words are not simple, the impacts are significant, and will probably impact their family, community, state, in some very powerful ways that they may not be aware of at this point,” Sturges said.

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