Dear Lyons Area Neighbors,
As a trustee of the Lyons Regional Library District, I encourage you to vote YES on Amendment B, the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment.
The effects of using the tax rates calculation according to Gallagher has been to reduce the total amount of property tax collected which puts a squeeze on government services, such as the school district, the county government, the Lyons Fire District, and your Lyons Community Library. As residential property values continue to increase relative to commercial values, that will only get worse. The Mesa County Libraries recently estimated that its revenue for 2022 would be reduced by 16% without the Gallagher repeal. And since there is very little commercial property within the Lyons Regional Library District, the reduction here could be even greater.
As the Boulder Daily Camera noted, “If you live in a community where there’s a fairly even balance between residential and commercial properties, then Gallagher might not be a big concern to you. But if you happen to live in a small bedroom community or an economically distressed community that has few businesses, then Gallagher has had the effect of squeezing the value of property your government leaders can tax down to almost nothing.” Link for this article: https://www.dailycamera.com/2020/09/05/editorial-vote-yes-on-amendment-b/
This repeal would remove a requirement in Colorado’s constitution that continually adjusts residential property assessment rates for taxation purposes so that residential taxes don’t make up more than 45% of the state’s total taxable property. That balance would seem reasonable, but what’s happened is that residential property values have increased much more than commercial, requiring the assessment rate on residential property to go down from 29% in in 1982, when Gallagher passed, to only 7.15% in 2020 and perhaps as low as 6% in 2021, according to Colorado Property Tax Administrator JoAnn Groff. That number is the percentage of a home’s value that is subjected to property tax. So, say your home is worth $100,000, then you pay property tax on only $7,150.
The Mesa County Daily Sentinel notes that Gallagher has “led to the state’s tax rates ranking 48th in the U.S. on residential properties and the highest in the nation for business properties.” Link to Mesa County Daily Sentinel article: https://www.gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/mesa-county-libraries-will-be-affected-by-gallagher-amendments-fate/article_a257f2c2-ee25-11ea-b1ae-a774af68af82.html
With Gallagher, we will see in 2021 that for every one dollar in residential taxes paid, businesses will pay five dollars.
Look, I’m not anxious to see my property taxes go up but this Amendment won’t increase residential property taxes, only freeze them where they are today at 7.15% and stop the bleeding. Due to TABOR, property taxes can go down but can’t increase without a statewide vote.
There is strong bipartisan support in the state legislature for repealing Gallagher—the vote to send this amendment to the voters passed with near-unanimous support. If Amendment B passes, it will be up to the state legislature to set the assessment rates and solve the problem in a way that is fair to all counties and special districts and also to both residential and commercial property owners.
This has already been a difficult year for your library, with the shutdown and our gradual reopening. We have done our best to continue to safely provide services from our beautiful new library, but a big budget cut would mean making some tough choices, primarily on staffing since that is our largest expense. We hope to continue to provide the services you expect and humbly ask for your support. We will get through this shutdown soon and look forward to welcoming the Lyons community back to your library.
Lyons Regional Library District Board Trustee
Disclaimer: The opinions and alleged facts expressed in “letters to the editor” are not necessarily a reflection of the official policy or position of any staff member or contributing writer or that of the Lyons Recorder. The material has not been researched or confirmed by the newspaper staff.