So, where are all those Grand County property taxes going, anyway? | SkyHiNews.com
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So, where are all those Grand County property taxes going, anyway?

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Property taxes are going up in much of Grand County, and for some, it’s an uncomfortable jump from last year to this year.

But when the check is written and put into the mail box, where is the money really going?

In the 2007 Grand County Abstract of Assessment, schools, the county and special districts demand the most out of property taxes.

Grand County saw a 31.7 percent increase in property tax revenue over last year, with a mill levy holding strong at 15.155.

That equates to $2.8 million added revenue from last year to this year.

According to County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran, part of that revenue is intended to build back fund balances expended to stabilize the landfill, which cost the county $4 million last year. And the cost of county services in a region that is growing by leaps and bounds is not going down, she said.

Property taxes, which are a portion of the county’s overall revenues, pay for the rising cost of roads, equipment, and employees. EMS is paid for through property taxes, something the citizens of Grand County agreed to support in 2003, when an added 2 mills brought the mill levy to its current level. Property taxes also support operations such as the Sheriff’s Office, county nursing services, natural resources and various other departments.

And the revenues could pay for a $1 million annual payment on the lease-purchase of the new 36,000 square-foot judicial building, she said.

As far as the renovation on the existing building, the county is erring on the conservative side. It has decided to not add another level on the building, but improve all county offices. Social Services will remain a neighbor to county offices, and the building department will move into the existing building after large-scale renovation is complete.

Grand County, as well as all Colorado government institutions, was affected by the 1992 passage of the taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). The amendment placed tax and spending limitations on government agencies in Colorado.

But Grand County voters elected to “de-Bruce” the county in a ballot issue passed in November 1996. The ballot issue exempted the county from having to comply with the revenue limits of TABOR, and has been in effect since 1997.

That means the county is not required to ratchet down its mill levy when the county’s assessed value increases.

Neither are most school districts, and now, even the metropolitan recreation district in Fraser. In fact, many districts in the county are no longer controlled by TABOR.

The West Grand School District nearly doubled its revenue in 2007, going to more than $4 million compared with $2.8 million in 2006, according to the assessment abstract.

But the district also lowered its mill levy from 29.983 to 23.673.

County Assessor Tom Weydert attributes West Grand’s positive revenues this year to the mining industry. The Henderson Mine and Mill valuation assessment went up roughly 22 percent due to the international demand for molybdenum.

The Kremmling Fire Protection district also lowered its mill levy from 10.182 to 9.652, yet still saw a property tax revenue increase of $15,275 over 2006.

The Kremmling Memorial Hospital District also lowered its mills, from 7.91 to 4.471, but remained neutral with $1,000 in added revenue.

East Grand School District’s mill levy went up, from 20.443 in 2006 to 20.773 2007, and the district saw a revenue increase of $2.7 million. The state passed a law last year allowing school districts to freeze their mill levies, and voters approved an $18 million school building bond issue last November.

Then there are special districts, including fire protection, recreation, library, water and sanitation, water conservation and soil conservation.

Some community developments with metropolitan districts have levies set as high as 55 mills to pay for infrastructure.

Voters passed a Fraser Metropolitan Recreation District bond issue last November, raising its mill levy by more than 290 percent, which boosted revenues from $588,509 to about $2 million. The money will be used to begin paying off bonds used to finance construction of a recreation center and various improvements around the district.

And the towns all showed an increase in revenue over last year. Most dropped their mill levy, such as in Fraser, Grand Lake, Kremmling and Winter Park. Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs left it the same as in 2006.

Voters elected to raise the Hot Sulphur Springs/Parshall Fire Protection District mill levy in November, all others either dropped their mill levy or kept it the same.

All fire protection districts showed an increase in property tax revenues, though the Grand, Grand Lake and Kremmling districts lowered their mill levies.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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