Local citizen questions legality, liability of 2016 Henderson Mill and Mine tax revaluation decision
Grand County’s contentious 2016 decision to allow the Henderson Mill and Mine to change the tax valuation of its property will return next week to the agenda of the county commissioners.
The issue was brought back to the forefront Tuesday after a county resident, Peter Ralph, petitioned the board to have the issue brought back up for discussion. Ralph spoke during the public comment period of the board meeting and made pointed accusations about the decision by the Grand County Board of Commissioners in 2016 to approve the revaluation, calling it an “illegal transaction.”
The transaction Ralph was referencing was a two-to-one vote by the board of commissioners in March 2016 that approved a change in the manner in which the tax valuation of the Henderson Mill and Mine complex is assessed. Current Commissioner Merrit Linke and former commissioner Jane Tollett approved the measure while Commissioner Kris Manguso opposed approval of a change in valuation.
The measure changed Henderson’s valuation from being based off a five-year average to a three-year average and resulted in the complex’s assessed value for taxation purposes dropping from a $35,861,490 in 2015 to $11,473,050 in 2016. The complex’s valuation is based on production figures. In 2016, as the valuation issue was before the board, Henderson was in the midst of declining production and significant employee layoffs.
In April 2016, after the board approved the revaluation, Ralph addressed the board explaining his concerns regarding the decision and hoping to get the board to retract the decision. According to Ralph, the board concurred with his position and asked Ralph to assist then County Attorney Alan Hassler in the drafting of a letter to Henderson seeking to abrogate their March decision.
During Tuesday’s meeting Ralph claimed Hassler called him and informed him he was not prepared to draft a letter to Henderson. Ralph claims the board then reversed their decision to stop the change in tax valuation and subsequently refused to print any letters he sent to the board. Ralph noted that he took his concerns to the Colorado Supreme Court after the incident.
“Are you aware of what happened when I went to the Colorado Supreme Court,” Ralph asked the Commissioners.
“I object to this continuing line of questioning and any responses,” Hassler said. “Under the Supreme Court rules this information is not discloseable.”
Ralph requested the board schedule a one-hour block of time during an upcoming meeting to present his concerns to the board and the county’s new attorney at a public meeting while on the record. Assistant County Attorney Bob Franek said he had no problem meeting with Ralph to discuss the issue but noted the results may not be what Ralph is hoping to achieve.
“I understand that Mr. Ralph wants answers,” Franek said. “But sometimes some things just can’t be answered. His question is, how did it happen? I don’t know that I can answer that question. I don’t know that you guys can answer that question. There are some things that just may not be answered.”
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