TABOR and the Incorporation Vote – Understanding the Tax Payer Bill of Rights
by Terri Wiebold
The upcoming general election on November 6 will list several TABOR (Tax Payers Bill of Rights) questions along with the issue of the incorporation of Castle Pines North (CPN) on the ballot. Many residents have asked, “What is TABOR, and how will it affect CPN?”
TABOR essentially limits how much total revenue the state can collect. It amends the Colorado Constitution so that a tax can be established (or increased) only by a vote of those to be taxed, and only at specified times. Colorado voters adopted TABOR in 1992, making that year a base for determining allowable revenue increases corresponding to inflation and growth. Local government retention and spending above that level requires voter approval.
TABOR and the Incorporation Issue –
What TABOR does not clearly address however, is the creation of a new municipality. If the incorporation of the proposed City of Castle Pines North is approved by voters, it would not have a “base revenue” as defined by the law. A new city requires both a sales tax and a property (or ad velorum) tax to begin operations, and residents must approve any proposed taxes on the November 6 ballot.
In addition, incorporation as a new city invalidates certain taxes that residents currently pay to other entities. One such example is the Douglas County Law Enforcement Assessment (LEA), which pays for law enforcement in the county, including Castle Pines North.
Authorizing the new city to collect these revenues to provide necessary law enforcement services is paramount. A “yes” vote is not a tax increase. Instead, it is simply a redirection of a current tax that residents already pay to one entity (Douglas County) to the new entity (City of Castle Pines North). This funding transition would have no cost impact on CPN residents.
Other TABOR questions on the November 6 ballot would also include: authorizing the collection of a 2.75 percent sales tax on non-food purchases in the CPN commercial district, and authorizing the levying of a Mill substitution for the water and sewer tax currently paid to the Castle Pines North Metro District (these responsibilities would be assumed by the city at a later date).
These issues are important for the operation of a new city and TABOR requires that residents vote on them in the November election of odd-numbered years. All ballots for the November 6 election will be mailed to active registered voters.
If residents vote to approve the incorporation of the City of Castle Pines North, the new city would require approval of these TABOR questions in order to effectively operate. A new city could not operate for a period of two years (until the next general election) without voters authorizing these TABOR revenues.
Registered voters will be provided additional information outlining the specifics of the upcoming election TABOR questions from Douglas County in its election blue books set to be mailed in October. Go to www.douglasvotes.com for more information.