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Eagle County considers resolution to block impacts of Gallagher Amendment

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September 1, 2020, 8:49 am

Eagle County put out the following press release on Monday about the Eagle County Board of Commissioners considering a resolution aimed at preventing state-imposed cuts to county services due to the Gallagher Amendment:

Today (Tuesday, Sept. 1) at 10 a.m., the Eagle County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution aimed at preventing state-imposed cuts to county services due to the Gallagher Amendment. The measure would authorize the board to adjust county mill levies for the sole purpose of maintaining existing revenues and service levels, including emergency services, road repairs and snow removal, open space preservation and food assistance.

The hearing will take place during the board’s regular public meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 1. There will be opportunity for public comment. The resolution and procedures for public participation are available at www.eaglecounty.us/Commissioners/Commissioner_Meetings/Agenda

The Gallagher Amendment was approved by Colorado voters and adopted in 1982 in response to homeowner concerns over rising residential property taxes. It requires that residential assessed values comprise no more than 45% of the state’s overall assessed value. Non-
residential properties, such as commercial and vacant land make up the remaining 55%. While the Gallagher Amendment sets the commercial assessment at a fixed rate of 29%, the residential assessment rate must be adjusted by the General Assembly during years of reappraisal to maintain a consistent ratio between total statewide assessed values of residential and non-residential property.

From 2003 to 2016, the state-imposed residential assessment rate remained steady at 7.96%. Since then, due to recent significant increases in residential development on the Front Range, the rates have been adjusted downward every two years with another decrease projected in 2021. The statewide formula disproportionally affects communities in mountain and rural areas with a high proportion of residential properties relative to commercial properties, and local governments have endured loss of revenues too large to be offset by any increases in property values. 

According to projections, a reduction in the statewide residential assessment rate from the current 7.15% rate to the 5.99% estimated rate would cause the following annual revenue reductions and service impacts for Eagle County:     

  • General Fund – includes law enforcement, emergency management, public health, community development, wildfire mitigation, economic development, elected offices: $2 million per year.
  • Open Space Fund – includes acquisition and maintenance of open space property; Eagle County voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved a 15-year extension of this property tax-funded program: $654,000 per year.
  • Road and Bridge Fund – includes snow removal and maintenance of county roadways: $593,000 per year.
  • Human Services Fund – includes veterans services, early childhood services, employment programs, public assistance: $408,000 per year.


As drafted, the resolution would allow the county to adjust its mill levy in order to maintain revenues that may otherwise be lost due to statewide reductions in the residential assessment rate. The proposed ballot language is as follows:

WITHOUT RAISING THE MILL LEVY FOR THE 2021 TAX COLLECTION YEAR, SHALL THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FOR EAGLE COUNTY HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO ADJUST THE COUNTY’S MILL LEVY RATE THEREAFTER AS NEEDED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MAINTAINING REVENUES THAT MAY OTHERWISE BE LOST AS A RESULT OF STATE IMPOSED REDUCTIONS IN THE RATIO OF ASSESSED PROPERTY TAX VALUATIONS SO THAT THE ACTUAL TAX REVENUES GENERATED BY THE COUNTY’S MILL LEVIES ARE THE SAME AS THE
REVENUES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN GENERATED HAD THE STATE NOT IMPOSED SUCH REDUCTIONS, IN ORDER TO ALLOW THE COUNTY TO SUSTAIN EXISTING LEVELS OF SERVICES SUCH AS:
 

  • EMERGENCY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TO WILDLAND FIRES AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS;
  • PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE TO PANDEMICS AND OTHER EMERGENCIES;
  • NECESSARY ROAD REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE;
  • OPEN SPACES AND NATURAL RESOURCE PRESERVATION;
  • EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE TO OUR WORKERS AND RESIDENTS;


AND SHALL THE REVENUES GENERATED BY ANY SUCH MILL LEVY INCREASE BE COLLECTED, RETAINED AND SPENT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY LIMITS PROVIDED BY LAW?

Within Eagle County, several entities have already received voter support to “de-Gallagherize,” including Colorado Mountain College, Gypsum Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District, Eagle Valley Library District and Eagle County Health Service District (ambulance district).

The towns of Avon, Eagle, and Vail, as well as the Eagle River Fire Protection District, are considering similar ballot measures.

Tuesday’s meeting will be aired and streamed live on Eagle County Government Television, available at www.ecgtv.com and on channel 18 on Comcast in the Eagle River Valley. To comment on the resolution in advance of the meeting, email eagleadmin@eaglecounty.us.

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