GOLDEN — In an election where Jefferson County (Jeffco) voters elected Democrats across the board in candidate races, they also opted to keep taxpayer protections in place with the defeat of Issues 1A, 1B and 1C.
While two of the measures dealt with marijuana cultivation, sales and taxes inside the county, all three would have had direct impact on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by removing TABOR revenue and expenditure limits.
TABOR is a constitutional amendment that, among other things, regulates the growth of local government revenue to a reasonable annual rate, currently 3.9% for Jeffco. Excess revenue must be returned to taxpayers unless voters give permission to exceed those limits.
Ballot Issue 1A would have allowed Jefferson County to permanently exempt all non-property tax revenue from the TABOR revenue limits. That would include revenue the county receives in the way of state grants, user fees, highways or tax funds and interest revenue, among other sources. It failed 50.55 percent to 49.45 percent.
It’s the second time in three years that Jeffco has asked voters to eliminate TABOR limits.
In 2019, Jeffco asked voters to allow the government to keep all revenue it collected, including property taxes, through 2027, and then just non-property tax revenue after that. At that time, county staff said the county would face a $16 million shortfall in 2020.
Ballot issue 1B would have authorized the manufacturing and retail sales of marijuana. It would also have allowed the county to “retain and spend all application, licensing, renewal fees, and enforcement costs” beyond the limitations of TABOR. It failed 52.29 percent to 47.71 percent.
Ballot issue 1C would have imposed a sales tax on marijuana beginning at 3 percent. The tax would fund public safety operations and expected to raise about $600,000 annually, which would also be exempt from TABOR limits. The county commission could raise the sales tax up to 6 percent without future voter approval. It also failed 52.29 percent to 47.71 percent.
Natalie Menten, a longtime political activist from Lakewood who campaigned against all three issues, told Complete Colorado it was a great night for the people of Jefferson County.
She said it was thanks to all the volunteers and community members who stood up to protect TABOR.
“Twice in a four-year period, Jeffco voters have told county commissioners we won’t forfeit our TABOR refunds,” Menten said. “Hopefully, this settles the issue, and the commissioners will stop spending taxpayer money and attacking TABOR, which has protected Jefferson County and Colorado for 30-years.
“Taxes in Jefferson County are capped at inflation and local growth due to TABOR. While voters in other counties were misled years ago into giving up their rights, Jeffco voters have once again made a good decision to keep modest fiscal restraints on our county government.”
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