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Mountain chambers of commerce rally behind efforts to ‘de-Gallagher’

October 8, 2020, 11:16 am

With ballots in the critical Nov. 3 election mailing out on Friday, Oct. 9, RealVail.com reached out to Chris Romer, president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership valley-wide chamber of commerce, to get his take on efforts to “de-Gallagher” through the statewide Amendment B and other local issues such as Vail’s 2G.

The question to Romer was how much added urgency there is to de-Gallagher given the fact that so many brick-and-mortar businesses are being squeezed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the failure of Congress and the White House to agree on another round of badly needed stimulus.

“Amendment B gives Coloradans a chance to remove Gallagher’s lopsided, one-size-fits all approach to property taxes that forces our local small businesses to shoulder an increasingly unfair share of property taxes,” Romer told RealVail.com in an email. “The increased cost of business to commercial property owners and by extension small business owners is not a sustainable model to fund our special districts and schools and has an oversized negative impact on mountain and rural communities.

“We have the opportunity in November’s election to fix this issue and freeze our residential rates, which helps our special districts and schools survive,” added Romer, who went into more detail in a column posted here last month.

Romer also shared this press release with Amendment B endorsements from several mountain-area chambers of commerce including the partnership:

Strengthen our Community Pillars 

At a time when partisan politics seem to seep into most any topic, it’s a breath of fresh air to see an issue on which a majority of Colorado Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters should agree: Colorado’s lopsided Gallagher Amendment has to go.

Mountain chambers of commerce including Vail Valley Partnership, Steamboat Springs Chamber, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Basalt Chamber, and the Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce are united with a wide variety of groups across Colorado in supporting Amendment B.

Amendment B gives Coloradans a chance to remove Gallagher’s lopsided, one-size-fits all approach to property taxes that forces our local small businesses to shoulder an increasingly unfair share of property taxes. These are our coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, day cares, auto repair shops, and retailers. They’re the places where we can come together with our friends and neighbors. They provide the jobs that drive our local economy.

These community cornerstones, where we celebrate, commiserate, and deepen friendships, have been tested like never before in 2020. The Gallagher Amendment doesn’t care. It’s a flawed formula that pushes additional property tax burden onto small local businesses struggling through unprecedented times. Amendment B not only removes this broken approach but freezes property tax rates.

Colorado homeowners currently enjoy the third lowest residential property tax rate in the country. Amendment B freezes that rate in place. Homeowners will also still have the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) in place to ensure their property tax rates can only be increased by a vote of the people.

Our volunteer boards – representing a wide variety of businesses and industries throughout the mountain region – are united in supporting Amendment B. We recognize that the Gallagher formula has forced an imbalance in property taxes in Colorado, causing a 300% increase in the shift of the property tax burden from homeowners to business owners. Residential property represents 80% of total property valuation yet maxes out at 45% of taxes leaving the remainder to fall on the shoulders of small businesses.  Repealing Gallagher stops the continual shifting of taxes to the commercial properties in our state, providing more predictability for businesses.

As a result of the Gallagher Amendment, the assessment rate for residential property has declined by more than two-thirds over the years because of Colorado’s population growth and because of increases in residential real estate values. The net effect has been a marked decline in revenues collected from property tax to fund special districts such as fire, recreation, education, and many more. Supporting Amendment B not only supports these community pillars but prevents them from needing to go to the ballot for their own ballot initiatives.

Amendment B’s ability to solve a worsening problem for Colorado’s economy without raising taxes is why it has received strong bi-partisan support. It makes sense. Let’s do right by our local businesses, keep our taxes low, and fix an approach that no longer works for our community by voting Yes on Amendment B.

Basalt Chamber of Commerce

Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association

Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association

Vail Valley Partnership

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