Re-2 school district column: Colorado requires Garfield Re-2 to increase mill levy rate |

Re-2 school district column: Colorado requires Garfield Re-2 to increase mill levy rate

Jeffrey Blanford
Garfield Re-2 Chief Financial Officer
Jeffrey Blanford is chief financial officer for the Garfield School District Re-2.

School districts across the state find themselves in a quandary. One hundred and twenty-seven Colorado school districts, including Garfield Re-2, must increase their total programming mill levy despite no recent election approving them to do so.

Total Program is a term used to describe the total amount of money each school district receives per pupil under the School Finance Act.

The good news is that taxpayers in Garfield Re-2 will pay no more than a 1-mill increase, from 4.7 to 5.7 mills, on their property tax bills for the 2022 tax year related to Total Program funding. The bad news is that additional 1-mill increases must happen for the next 11 years to reach the state-required total program target mill of 16.282.

This increase is not additional funding that will come to Garfield Re-2. It is a correction to adjust the local share of total program funding for education to the amount that is legally required by state statutes and the state Constitution. Total program funds are different from any voter-approved mill levy override or bond. School boards cannot adjust Total Program mills, they only certify the rates that are set by the state.

The Legislature recently passed two bills that are driving this change — HB20-1418 and HB21-1164. This legislation also puts tax credits in place to phase in the adjustment. The 2021 tax credit was 11.582 mills. For tax year 2022, the tax credit decreases to 10.582 mills, and Garfield Re-2’s mill levy will increase to 5.7. The district must increase the mill levy and reduce the tax credit by no more than 1 mill per year until the target of 16.282 mills is reached in 11 years.

What does it mean for property taxpayers in Garfield Re-2?

The current estimated assessed value rate for Colorado homes is 7.15%. That means if your home is valued at $100,000, the taxed value would be $7,150. This value is multiplied by the mill rate to calculate total property taxes for each taxing entity. The 2021 Garfield Re-2 total program mill was $7,150 x 0.0047, or $33.60 per $100,000. The increase from 2021 to 2022 would be $7,150 x 0.0057, or approximately $40.76 — a difference of about $7.16 per $100,000 of property value.

Over the next 11 years, the total program line for Garfield Re-2 will increase from 4.7 mills in 2021 (approximately $33.60) to 16.282 mills (approximately $116.42) per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

How did this happen?

The legislation discussed above was necessary to correct a decades-old misinterpretation by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, was passed in 1992 and limits the amount of tax revenue the state and governmental entities can retain and spend. School districts and other governmental agencies were able to ask the voters to “de-TABOR.”

Garfield Re-2 voters “de-TABORED” in 1998, allowing the district to maintain the higher mill levy rate; however, CDE and others interpreted state statutes to say that “de-TABORed” districts should reduce their local property tax. Legal interpretation now concludes that property taxes should never have been reduced.

Garfield Re-2 staff will host a Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 19, as well as share with additional community groups and meetings to provide further explanation and answer questions. The Zoom link will be posted at under the calendar event.

Jeffrey Blanford is chief financial officer for the Garfield School District Re-2.

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