Jefferson County (“Jeffco” or “the county”) is one of only a few Colorado counties that retain the full protections of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). On July 23, 2019, the Jefferson County commissioners unanimously voted to put Ballot Issue 1A (“1A” or “Issue 1A” or “Ballot Issue 1A”) on the November 2019 ballot. Ballot Issue 1A eliminates many of our protections in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights permanently and contains a hidden $350 million-dollar property tax increase during the next ten years.
The county’s case in support of Ballot Issue 1A is as follows:
The county’s proposed solution is for the voters to enact Ballot Issue 1A in November 2019, which would eliminate most of the TABOR protections against excessive county spending growth for Jeffco citizens. Currently, the TABOR spending protections for taxpayers allow the county to grow its budget in line with population and economic growth (3.9% per year between 2019 and 2020), but no more. Thus, one key issue raised by 1A is whether the county should be able to increase its spending by more than 3-4% per year in perpetuity. In addition, Issue 1A would permit the county to raise the county portion of property taxes by about 18%, or about $350 million over the next ten years.
This brief is based on an analysis of Jefferson County’s adopted county budgets for 2015-2019, the recent 2020 Proposed Budgets, and the official presentations made to the Board of County Commissioners by Jeffco’s budget department in July and August. We drew the following conclusions: