Even the editorial boards of smaller Colorado newspapers, in places that are hardly bastion of rock-ribbed conservatism, are assailing Gov. Bill Ritter for his property tax hike. From an editorial in today’s Vail Daily:
Thanks to the stateâ€™s Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which stunts the growth of property taxes, those of us who own property in Eagle County shouldnâ€™t expect to see our taxes skyrocket at the same rate as our property values without voter approval.
This year, however, taxpayersâ€™ rights were usurped by Gov. Bill Ritterâ€™s decision to freeze the statewide school district property tax rate. Because Eagle County has enjoyed a significant rise in property values â€” an average of about 40 percent countywide in the last two years â€” property owners here saw a spike in their property tax bills.
Not only was Ritterâ€™s move a clear violation of the TABOR Amendment because it effectively raised taxes without voter approval, it didnâ€™t benefit many of the stateâ€™s school districts. Funding for the Eagle County School District pretty much stayed the same. Thatâ€™s because the state determines the amount of money each school district receives every year, then fills in what the districts canâ€™t cover themselves.
What the mill levy freeze did is transfer the burden of funding Eagle County schools to local taxpayers and out of the stateâ€™s budget. The result? We paid $8 million more in property taxes to the school district. Meanwhile, the stateâ€™s contribution to Eagle County schools dropped by about $8 million.
But it’s for the children, right? The editorial goes on to explain that all Bill Ritter had to do was to ask voters first. Hopefully the Colorado Supreme Court comes down on the side of taxpayers.