By Sheridan Block
Along with the series of retail marijuana questions on the ballot this November, Ouray voters will be asked to approve a "de-Brucing" of city property tax.
During its meeting on Tuesday, city council approved Resolution No. 8, which details ballot language that would allow the city to collect and retain property tax revenues that are limited by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
The question will read: "Provided that no mill levy shall be increased, above the preserved mill levy of 13.585 for general operating expenses, without further voter approval, shall the City of Ouray be authorized to collect, retain and spend all excess revenues from property taxes received in 2015 and each subsequent year, without regard to any revenue or expenditure limitations including those contained in Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution (TABOR)?"
With a tight grip on the General Fund, the city is desperately looking at revenue options to build reserves and continue to maintain basic core services the city provides. Under TABOR laws, however, local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth.
TABOR, passed in the state by voters in 1992, is a constitutional amendment that limits government spending at all levels. However, many local governments thought that the amendment was written in a way that does not have a straightforward application or clear interpretation, and throughout the 1990s, a number of municipalities opted to ask voters to "de-Bruce" various aspects of the law in order to escape the broad restriction.
De-Brucing, named after the amendment's author, Douglas Bruce, is the term used to lift one or more of TABOR's spending limitations. By de-Brucing the city's property tax, the city would not have to refund any of the excess revenues received from assessed values. In 1994, the city de-Bruced its sales tax, lodging and...