2022 Election, Jefferson County, TABOR, Taxes, Uncategorized

Menten: No on Jefferson County 1A; keep taxpayer protections in place

Just three years ago, Jefferson County (Jeffco) voters overwhelmingly rejected an attempt by commissioners to hike taxes by eliminating Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits on county revenues. Now it’s 2022 and there is once again an assault against TABOR’s taxpayer protections on the Jeffco ballot with Issue 1A.  County voters should reject this tax hike as well.

TABOR is packed with great taxpayer benefits, and as would be expected, some politicians hate it. The constitutional measure approved by voters in 1992 protects us at the statewide level and also locally, such as county government.

We can thank TABOR for this year’s $750 rebate check issued to all Coloradans. TABOR has served Colorado very well for thirty years.

Since Jeffco voters have been wise enough to retain our local county TABOR rights, we get a bonus over other counties where voters–likely due to deceitful ballot language–gave away their rights in early years. We’re one of thirteen counties with all or most of TABOR protections still in force.

Jeffco commissioners were required under TABOR to issue rebates to taxpayers this year for over-collected taxes from last year, and you likely just got that check in the mail. Commissioners had a choice on how to issue the rebates; TABOR allows that. They could have chosen the traditional, and most cost-effective method of directly reducing the property tax mill levy, instead, commissioners chose to spend nearly a quarter-million dollars to issue paper checks.

What would they make such an illogical financial decision? I’ll take a wild guess, but there’s an excellent chance I’m spot-on.

County Commissioners Andy Kerr, Lesley Dahlkemper, and Tracy Kraft-Tharp grabbed the opportunity to use taxpayer money to include a persuasive letter inserted with the rebate check to influence county voters into giving up TABOR rebates forever. The commissioners’ decision expresses a wasteful disregard for public money, and as a side note, doesn’t rate a high-five on the environmental record, either.

The opportunity they are focused on is to eliminate fiscal restraints and that’s all that matters.

Spending nearly a quarter-million in public money to “educate” voters about why the modest government restraints in TABOR are bad is a disrespectful action. As a reminder, Jeffco voters said no to eliminating those restraints three years ago, and nothing has changed.

Don’t fall for the lie that TABOR doesn’t allow government to keep enough tax money. Under the TABOR growth formula, Jefferson County government has been able to increase revenue over years. On top of that, the county has gotten over $160 million in federal Covid money over the last year that they’re just now starting to spend. The commissioners didn’t want to mention this huge pot of money when they hosted events earlier this year to pre-sell the 1A tax hike. Mentioning the large amounts of federal dough coming in would have disrupted the fairy tale of not enough tax revenue.

Thanks to TABOR, we have lower property tax bills, benefiting property owners as well as renters. If property taxes go up because we lose TABOR safeguards, you can expect your rent will increase as well.

But career politicians, like current Jefferson County Commissioner Andy Kerr, cannot stand limits on government revenues in any shape or form. Kerr, in his personal capacity, spent the last ten years as the lead plaintiff in a legal case to eliminate TABOR completely. Fortunately, the court didn’t fall for it and Kerr’s decade-long effort against taxpayers was paused in late 2021.

It’s no surprise that politicians want to deceive voters with tricky ballot language. They’d rather trick you so they can keep every penny and never give you a refund again. That’s the case with Jeffco Issue 1A this year, and it’s the same ploy commissioners tried in 2019. Jeffco voters didn’t fall for it then, so don’t fall for it this time either.  Vote NO on Jeffco 1A.

We have an active campaign to oppose Jefferson County tax increase Issue 1A. Find out more at NoJeffcoTaxHike.com.

Natalie Menten is the coordinator for the No Jeffco Tax Hike campaign. She was elected to serve eight years as a board director of the Regional Transportation District and currently volunteers on the board of directors for the TABOR Foundation.


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