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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
• 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.