Proposition HH is about way more than just property taxes

Cassandra Ballard
Post Independent
Ray Cash Dollar fills out his ballot at the voting center located at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Proposition HH will be on the November ballot this year and there is a lot involved in it.

“You might think you’re voting on lowering property taxes, but you’re actually voting on a lot more,” said Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico.

The proposition plans to take portions of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) refunds to reduce hiking property taxes. 

In the past year, property taxes had a big spike after the Gallagher Amendment was repealed in 2020.  

State legislation worked out a solution that involves a lot of factors. Voting yes on the proposition will affect how properties are taxed, how much or little residents receive from TABOR, mill levies, education funding and more. 

Yellico said he was against every aspect of the proposition, but he is concerned with how many different factors are thrown into it. 

“I totally support lowering property taxes,” Yellico said. “I want that really, really bad. But I don’t I don’t support some of the other things in the bill.”

Yellico and Sen. Perry Will are also worried about how the proposition seems to want to take away local government’s ability to spend funding, by essentially asking all taxpayers to hand over their TABOR checks to the state government. 

“I still believe that local government, like the property tax system, is one of the purest forms of government in our country, and it’s because the people that are making the decisions, the taxation decisions, or the policy decisions or whatever live in your area,” Yellico said.

Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin said he does not necessarily have a stance to vote yes or no on Proposition HH, but he doesn’t think it’s enough of a break for what homeowners need. 

The proposition would create a new cap on state revenue, and create a limit on local government property tax revenue.

If passed, TABOR refund checks will have the same amount of $888 distributed to all taxpayers in 2023 and then the checks will diminish by a lot in 2024, according to the most updated estimates from the proposition.

It will reduce property taxes, but technically increase taxes in the state by allowing the state to cap taxation at a higher rate, potentially by a 25% annual growth rate in the state spending limit, according to the Common Sense Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Colorado

The excess revenue will go to education and other state government entities, which could relieve the state of the “negative factor,” the deficit created from the state “borrowing” funding from education since 2009. 

More than 80% of additional money retained from Proposition HH would go to education with no accountability measures or spending guidelines, according to the Common Sense Institute.

The proposition will also separate property taxes into separate categories. Yellico said this is a part of the proposition he is not in favor of because it picks winners and losers. 

For example, someone who owns a second home will be taxed more heavily on the second property, even if that property is rented out to the local workforce. 

Other factors that could be challenging for both assessors and homeowners is that people will be personally assessed for property instead of just assessing the properties. 

Yellico said he would have to hire more people and would have to assess properties through social security numbers and other forms of personal information he is not as comfortable collecting. 

When the Gallagher Amendment was repealed, it raised property taxes, but in 2020 and 2021 the General Assembly passed legislation to temporarily reduce rates. 

One benefit that Yellico said he liked was the senior citizen exemption language. The proposition will allow people older than 65 to use their tax credit, even if they move. 

Currently, people over the age of 65 must stay in their home for more than 10 years to qualify for the senior exemption. If they are forced to move because of health or mobility then they lose the exemption.  

Renters will be the biggest losers if the proposition passes, according to the Common Sense Institute. Mostly because they will be giving up their TABOR refunds to benefit homeowners. 

One aspect mentioned by each assessor and Will was that if Proposition HH does not pass, state legislation would be required to have a special session to find another solution for the hike in state property taxes. 

If the bill doesn’t pass, it essentially goes back to the drawing board.

This story is from the Post Independent.

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