Untitled Document
May 2015 • Online Edition

Neighbors share
love of
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Denver’s past
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plans for
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pet mediation

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Hancock Seeks De-Brucing To Shore Up Sagging Revenues | Print |  E-mail

Editor’s Note: Ballot Measure 2A, if passed, would free the City and County of Denver from provisions of the Tabor Amendment that prevent the city from maximizing the revenue it can retain under current property tax rates.

It would bring an additional $68 million into city coffers. Some 85 percent of Colorado jurisdictions have similarly freed themselves from these specific provisions. The requirement that tax increases be approved by a vote of the people would remain intact. It is estimated this would cost the average Denver property owner approximately $108 per year.

Measure 2A: Against

by Mike Krause
V.P. of Operations, Independence Institute

Denver Measure 2A would, among other things, remove property tax revenue limitations imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), resulting in a forever property tax increase for Denver property owners. While this means more money for the city bureaucracy, it also means higher rents for the working poor, less disposable income for homeowners on fixed and shrinking incomes, and a drag on the struggling economy.

Writing at the WhoSaidYouSaid.com blog, Joshua Sharf explains that not only are apartments and rental units taxed at the same rate as primary residences in Denver, but that rents are already rising as a result of the lowest rental vacancy rates in decades. “In such a market, it would prove easy to pass the additional property tax on to renters,” concludes Sharf.

Passing along higher property taxes to renters would also be a rational decision by rental property owners, who are not in the landlord business to lose money.  

Measure 2A would also fall hard on senior citizen homeowners living on fixed incomes. Their property taxes will go up, while their income remains flat. The Hancock administration tacitly acknowledges this in their proposal to spend the new tax money, which includes (the phrase): “Increase the city’s property-tax credit from $186/year to $372 for 4,000 low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities.”

Since this is new general fund money (discretionary spending), there is absolutely no guarantee that this is what it will actually go towards. Even so, what they leave out is that other low-income and fixed-income senior citizens will pay for the tax credits for those 4,000 people.

For many other Denver homeowners, incomes have been flat or declining for several years. The median household income in Denver is below what it was in 2007 and unemployment remains high in the metro area. New tax burdens in a struggling economy mean less money in homeowners’ pockets for groceries, gas, insurance, home improvements and mortgages.

This might be entirely lost on the mayor and the Denver City Council (with the exception of Jeanne Faatz, who voted against referring the measure to the ballot), who are apparently immune from recessions, having recently voted themselves a hefty pay raise.

That’s all well and good for them, but for low-income renters, seniors on modest fixed-incomes, and other Denver homeowners struggling in a weak economy, Measure 2A is the city bureaucracy deeper in their pockets at the worst possible time.

Measure 2A: For

By Michael B. Hancock
Mayor of Denver

Renovating the Montbello Denver Public library took nine months, and during that time 16-year-old Chris was cut off from Internet access for homework and unable to access email or social media. 

Like thousands of Denver-area young people, Chris’ only on-ramp to the information highway is at his local library, proof of the critical role libraries play in our community and in our children’s education. But due to the recession and state-mandated revenue limits in TABOR, Denver libraries are only open four days a week. That’s not enough to meet ever-growing demands.

Libraries are just one of the essential services cut since the economy collapsed in 2008. Denver has not hired new police recruits or replaced police, fire and public works vehicles. We’ve fallen behind on street paving and repairs and we’ve had to cut way back on recreation and after-school programs for unsupervised children when they aren’t in the classroom.

But Denver voters can eliminate the city’s deficit and catch back up on essential services by passing Measure 2A on this fall’s ballot.

If voters say yes, Measure 2A will allow Denver to keep and spend $68 million we currently give back to taxpayers each year to stay below the TABOR limit, even while we are still cutting essential services. This makes no sense. 

Measure 2A simply asks voters to remove those fiscal handcuffs so Denver can join the 85 percent of Colorado communities that have taken themselves out from under their TABOR limits.

This would allow Denver to eliminate its annual deficit, recover from the recession and restore essential services such as:

•   Bringing library service back to an average of 48 hours a week.

•   Recruiting 100 new police and fire recruits.

•   Replacing an aging fleet of 1,000 police, fire and public works vehicles.

•   Repaving 300 lane-miles of neighborhood streets.

•   Providing access to pools, recreation centers, after-school programs and child-care to tens of thousands of Denver children.

We will also increase our efforts to attract and retain jobs and double the city’s property tax credit for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

At the same time, I will continue to streamline city operations, achieve millions of dollars in efficiency savings and improve customer service.

On behalf of young people like Chris, I ask for your “yes” vote on Measure 2A. Help us restore library hours and catch back up on other essential services so that we can eliminate the deficit, recover from the recession and move Denver forward.

For information, go to YesOnDenver.com.

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