Denver Tax and Bond Issues – Final Thoughts

I will mark my ballot this weekend, and drop it off at the Scheitler Recreation Center in Berkeley Park on Monday, the 29th, the first day that ballots will be accepted at the several “drop off” centers around the city.

I’ve argued for a NO vote on 1A (a forever 2.5 mill levy increase on property taxes); a NO vote on 1H (new construction for the cultural facilities, notably a “re-do” of Boettcher Concert Hall to remediate acoustics). For what it’s worth, all of my scribbles with regard to the Denver Tax and Bond ballot questions can be perused by clicking on the category “November Ballot Issues,” that appears at the bottom of this entry or on the right sidebar.

This morning comes another ominous prospect for your pocketbook. From the Rocky Mountain News (Kevin Flynn), a piece titled, “Transport panel aims high in ideas for raising revenue,” notes: “The Governor’s Task Force on Transportation Finance is developing alternative ways to raise money for transportation. …That would involve an average $100 a year increase in the auto registration fee, a doubling of the current 22-cents-a-gallon state gas tax, a daily hotel room and rental car fee of $6, a state sales tax increase of 0.55 cents and a 2 percent increase in the natural resources severance tax.”

Not to belabor this thing, but let me just repeat part of an entry I made some time ago, that provides an explication of additional burdens that taxpayers will have to bear:

Dennis Gallagher, Denver’s Auditor, took pains to study both the proposed 2.5 mill levy increase proposed by Hickenlooper, and coupled that with the back door machinations of Governor Bill Ritter’s tax and spend Democratically controlled State Legislature. The State Legislature passed the School Finance Act that froze property tax rates–in opposition to a 1982 constitutional amendment–thus negating the requisites of the constitutional amendment that provided when residential property values rose, mill levies would fall; what was supposed to be an effort to limit the tax burden on property owners by the state.

So, the truth or the more accurate estimate of how much property taxes will increase–taking into account both the proposed 2.5 mill increase and the cost of the $550 million bond package–both from the Hick–and Ritter’s back door property tax increase (which, incidentally, only affects property that rises in value, like DENVER), looks more like about $100 per year: $36.54 for the state increase; $50.75 for the city mill levy increase and $12.52 for the bond package. (These figures from Chris Barge’s piece in the September 11th, edition of the Rocky Mountain News.)

I know, doesn’t sound like a whole lot of money to most. For some, it will be a burden.

The problem with the whole mess is, for me, just exactly what all this tax and spend in going to provide and what necessarily it won’t provide. What will still linger out there, undone, neglected, while big bucks are spent on projects that, in the Hick’s view, will make Denver a “great city.”

Additionally, if you hadn’t noticed, Denver Water will raise rates next year. The rate increase will, on average, mean an additional $13 for taxpayers in Denver. Parking ticket fines are also going up, from $20 to $25.

As an aside, a piece by Jennifer Brown, Denver Post, with regard to Ritter’s tax freeze–described above–notes: “The freeze will mean an additional $32.7 million generated by Denver property taxes, up $15.6 million from an April estimate.

“But the increase in local funding does not correlate to additional funding for Denver Public Schools. The extra $32.7 million in local property taxes means $32.7 million less [for Denver] from the state next year. [Admittedly, I don’t really have a mental handle on the $32.7 million less for Denver next year. Why? What does that mean? With the sorry state of the Denver Public School system; with the additional burden on Denver taxpayers for education to the tune of $32.7 million, why is DPS not a major recipient of the same? Don’t know.]

“The state money instead will go into the Colorado education fund to support statewide preschool slots and other programs.” [Okay. So, Paonia will derive benefit from the immense increased tax burden on Denver’s taxpayers, but Denver won’t? I don’t get it.]

Well, that’s it. I sincerely hope you’ve studied each and every tax and bond question being proposed. I sincerely hope you haven’t bought the shameless hype from the Hickies that these ballot questions should be looked at as a package–an “all or none” kind of happy-crappy, feel good, happy face, foam-rubber hug fest which the Hickies have attempted to turn this thing into.

Please be a smart, informed voter when you mark that ballot.

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