Some Garfield County seniors may receive a 2009 tax break |

Some Garfield County seniors may receive a 2009 tax break

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

After months of thought, Garfield County has decided to give hundreds of senior citizens what is essentially a rebate on their property tax bills for 2009.

Referred to in county documents as the “senior exemption,” the program will involve sending checks to what assessor John Gorman reported to be “about 1,300” people on the county’s property tax rolls.

The issue was first raised by Commissioner John Martin late in 2009, as a way to ease the economic hardships of senior citizens.

Gorman, in response to inquiries from the commissioners, came to the Feb. 16 board of county commissioners meeting armed with a list that he said contained the names of those county residents who would have qualified for the State of Colorado’s Senior Tax Exemption.

The funds for that exemption were not appropriated for 2009 by the state legislature, as part of a broad effort to lift the state out of a sea of red ink.

According to staff estimates, Martin said, the tax benefit for seniors will cost the county roughly $403,000. Each recipient would receive a check of between $138 and $480, depending on their property-tax liability.

Commissioner Tresi Houpt has repeatedly argued at meetings that the county is facing severe budgetary shortfalls in the coming years and should not be giving away money.

She noted this week that other segments of the county’s population “might see themselves as just as in need” as senior citizens, which she said would occasion “an interesting but difficult conversation” between Garfield County and its constituents.

Martin rejoined, “If I’m gonna house dogs for half a million dollars [a reference to the county’s animal shelter], and I’m not doing anything for our seniors, I can’t live with myself.”

Houpt responded that the county does provide assistance to seniors in many ways, but ended up voting for the measure, which passed unanimously.

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