Superior Might Urge Residents to Vote ‘no’ on Rocky Mountain Fire District Ballot Initiative
If you go
What: Superior Board of Trustees meeting
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: 124 E. Coal Creek Drive
More info: superiorcolorado.gov
The Superior Board of Trustees will vote Monday on a resolution urging residents to reject Boulder County Ballot Issue 6A, citing the vagueness of the initiative that would allow the Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District to raise its mill levy when the residential assessment rate is lowered.
The resolution’s language reads: “Homeowners have an interest in knowing with clarity the amount they will pay annually for mill levies and property taxes and should not be faced with potentially unknown increases that deviate from the current methodology of applying a fixed mill levy to assessed property valuation.”
It adds that “it is important for the town and homeowners to know the amounts that will be paid in property taxes and to identify the need and justification for any proposed increase in taxes and mill levies, and to have an ability to vote on any such increase.”
The ballot issue also would allow the district’s mill levy to fall back if the assessment rate (the percent of property value that is subject to taxation) were to rise, which fire officials have touted as a solution to the instability of its revenue caused by the Gallagher Amendment to the state Constitution,
The Gallagher Amendment, enacted in 1982, dictates residential properties make up no more than 45 percent of the total state property tax base, and the other 55 percent coming from commercial properties.
While rising home values in tax districts such as Rocky Mountain Fire have neutralized revenue loss caused by assessment rate reductions, local fire officials have said they need revenue they would be able to otherwise collect to service populations that are growing at an unprecedented rate.
The assessment rate has dropped from 21 percent when Gallagher was first implemented, to 7.2 percent, today.
Though, according to the resolution that will be considered by leaders Monday, and former Trustee Rita Dozal — who recently resigned ahead of plans to move out of Superior — the measure “only provides one half of the equation.
“I would support voting ‘no’ on (Ballot Issue 6A) because (Rocky Mountain Fire is) not providing the complete facts and information to the voters,” Dozal said Friday.
“They’re keeping the valuation of a home the same and saying they’re going to lose money if they don’t because Gallagher is going down,” she added. “But the trick is, in Boulder County — where Superior residents are and where most of Rocky District is — our valuations have risen significantly, so even with the reduced assessment rate, they’re taking in more tax revenue than they would have before.”
Rocky Mountain Fire has previously stated it would have collected $620,000 more in revenue in 2018 without the cut to the 7.2 percent rate, and projects it will lose out on $892,000 more if the rate decreases again to 6.11 percent.
“That was revenue lost if the assessment would have stayed the same. We are looking at effects of Gallagher independently of home value. Think of the service we could provide if Gallagher did not remove the funding,” Deputy Chief Sterling Folden said in August .
In a statement Friday evening, Suzanne DeVenny, Rocky Mountain Fire secretary/treasurer, said “The Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District were surprised to see... a resolution urging Superior (residents) to vote ‘no’ on Boulder County Ballot Initiative 6A” on the agenda for the town’s upcoming trustee meeting. She added that the town had already invited the district board to give a financial presentation to trustees on Monday.
“Based on the agenda schedules for (the meeting) it appears to Rocky Mountain Fire that the Superior Town Board has already decided to oppose Initiative 6A before hearing the financial presentation that they specifically invited Rocky Mountain Fire to make,” she stated.
The Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District’s service area covers a 55-square-mile region west and south of Lafayette and Superior and includes a population of 28,000. The district has 45 full-time employees and an operating budget of $9.6 million.
Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, email@example.com or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn