Tax districts in Norwood are discussing the November election, since one initiative might make it on to the ballot, potentially pass and then affect local tax dollars. Ballot initiative No. 27 started on the Front Range, and its mission is to lower taxes. Currently, it’s gaining the required number of signatures to go before voters this fall. But, local districts say that if that happens, and taxes and assessed valuations come down, they’ll be losing revenue that they need for operations.
No. 27 would reduce residential assessment rates from 7.15 percent to 6.5 percent. For commercial, the rate would be reduced from 29 percent to 26.4 percent.
What does that mean for organizations that derive funding from assessment rates? According to Carrie Andrew, director of the Lone Cone Library, the public library stands to lose a lot from the percentage decrease.
“It will effectively cut the library district’s funds by 9 percent,” she said, which is equivalent, based on last year’s funding, to approximately $32,000. “That’s someone’s salary.”
For the Norwood Park & Recreation District the cut in funding could be even greater.
The Norwood Fire Protection District also said No. 27 could prove to be challenging.
“We anticipate that most property owners will vote in favor of a permanent tax assessment reduction on Initiative 27, which will result in a major financial loss and possible decrease in mission-critical services for the Norwood Fire Protection District,” said Chief John Bockrath. “Unfortunately, this will make it more difficult to plan for the future, and could threaten the tremendous improvements we’ve made with the property tax increase from the 2015 election.”
Andrew said that sometimes initiatives can pass simply because they sound good to people. At the same time, those initiatives may be too good to be true. Voters may not realize the negative effects of what could happen because of what they’re approving.
“They’re trying to decrease taxes without talking about the impacts it will have on everyone else — the different districts,” Andrew said.
Now, Andrew said is a time to educate voters on the toll No. 27 could take on Norwood, the damage it could have on rural tax districts like the library.
Last Monday, various members of five different local boards came together to discuss No. 27, and how they planned to respond to the decrease. On Monday night, the Park & Recreation board held a special meeting to further discuss the issue.
To be proactive, some district boards are aiming to freeze their assessed valuation rates now, by means of a local ballot question this fall. Andrew said even if No. 27 is defeated in November, something similar could be put to voters in the following election. She said it’s important to act now to freeze and protect what is in place. This, she said, can protect against an even greater loss in the future.
Each district in the Norwood area that aims to freeze their assessment rate must create its own ballot question for the county election this fall. Some boards plan to do just that. Norwood voters could see up to five questions asking to freeze assessed valuation percentage rates.
San Miguel County previously approved a freeze to residential properties.