Colorado task force looking for long-term property tax solutions close to finalizing recommendations

Outside groups pushing proposals for voters to consider in November
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Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 22:06:44-05

A commission tasked with finding long-term property tax solutions is getting closer to sending its recommendations to state lawmakers.

The commission, which is chaired by State Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, is comprised of a bipartisan group of local and state leaders. It was created during last year’s special session on property taxes, which Gov. Jared Polis called after voters rejected Proposition HH.

Scott Wasserman with the Bell Policy Center has followed the commission’s work closely. He said the commission is likely to recommend targeted relief to Coloradans who need it most.

"You know, not every single community has experienced increases in property tax. Some haven’t,” said Wasserman. “This legislature and our state need more precise tools so that we can deliver property tax relief to those who need it.”

He said it's likely the legislature will be able to act on many of the recommendations. Others, though, may require voter approval.

"We're hopeful that this property tax commission comes up with reasonable, practical solutions that help people while not throwing the baby out with the bath water and destroying community funding at the local and state level,” said Wasserman.

Wasserman said that's what would happen if ballot proposals developed by outside groups were adopted. He specifically points to those proposed by Michael Fields with Advance Colorado.

"The likelihood that the legislature fixes this problem isn't high right now, which is why we're going straight to voters,” said Fields.

Fields said his proposals would limit property tax growth. One of them is Initiative 50.

"Initiative 50 would set a 4% cap on how much property taxes can go up each year statewide. If you want to go above that, it would allow voter approval to do that,” said Fields.

Initiative 50 has already qualified for November’s ballot.

Fields has teamed up with Colorado Concern on another proposal he’s hoping to get on the ballot. He describes it as a "cap and a cut” that addresses both the short-term and the long-term problems.

Fields said he and Colorado Concern actually submitted three proposals — Initiatives 198, 199, and 200 — to the state’s title board, but only one would go to voters. He said Initiative 50 would be enshrined in the state constitution, meaning only voters could make changes to it.

The proposal with Colorado Concern is statutory, meaning lawmakers could make changes to it.

Wasserman said the Bell Policy Center has developed its own ballot initiatives that he says are intended to block the impact of proposals like the ones Fields is pushing.

“We are fully committed to making sure that at the very least there's another measure that offsets the impact to the state and local communities,” said Wasserman.

As for the property tax commission, it has until March 15 to submit its recommendations to the General Assembly, but its work can continue after that date. The commission has already scheduled a meeting for April 12.

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