For the over 40 years Salida has been my home; working for the Salida schools and serving on the Library Board have been at the heart of my community involvement.
Library funding is a complex issue. When Colorado voters put the Gallagher Amendment into place in 1982 the assessment rate for business was 45 percent and residential property was 29 percent. It is now outdated and a bipartisan group of legislators requests its repeal.
The residential rate is now 7.2 percent, and unless voters pass the repeal it will likely drop another percentage point or two in the next year, to less than 6 percent. Because of how residential assessment rates have dropped, businesses now pay roughly four times the property tax rate that homeowners do. As a result, each time a community increases taxes, it falls that much harder on businesses.
The drop will mean a loss of income to the Salida Regional Library and other special tax districts, such as fire protection and hospitals, as well as schools, cities, and counties. Rural areas will be hit hardest due to our lack of industry. This will cause the Library to have to cut programs and worse than that, staff.
Our community takes great pride in our Library. It serves all aspects of our community’s residents and tourists and deserves full financial support.
And in case the proposed change worries you, lawmakers cannot ever increase the state property tax assessment rate without a vote of the people because TABOR – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – is still in effect. Any increase in assessment rate and any increase in local mill levy will still come before Colorado voters for approval.
I urge you to vote yes on Amendment B, to repeal the Gallagher Amendment.