The Lone Cone Library and the Town of Norwood are headed to the ballot this November to protect their budgets from Proposition 120, formerly known as Ballot Initiative 27, and also future attempts to lower property assessment rates.
The repeal of Gallagher in 2020 opened the floodgates to future changes to property assessment rates, as is currently the case with Proposition 120. This leaves towns and special districts across Colorado vulnerable to attempts to reduce assessment rates. Those reductions would cut yearly budgets, or at least make them less predictable.
This means libraries, towns, schools, fire districts, park and recreation districts, sanitation districts, and others face cuts to revenue in the upcoming election and elections thereafter.
By going to the ballot, the Lone Cone Library and the Town of Norwood are trying to protect themselves from the attempts to reduce assessment rates, ensuring that they will have more sustainable budgets. This will allow the library and town to make sure that programs and services for community needs can consistently be maintained, even if legislation such as Proposition 120 passes.
The Lone Cone Library and the Town of Norwood hope to protect their revenues by each asking to have their collection rates frozen at the current rate.
If this sounds familiar, it's because San Miguel County asked a similar question in the 2020 election. Like the county, the library and town are not asking for more money or higher taxes — just that their revenue collection be stabilized at the current rate.
Carrie Andrew, director of Lone Cone Library, reported that if the library’s question passes, the library hopes to expand hours and maintain the current growth of programs and services. However, if the library’s question fails the facility could experience increased threats to its budget.
Andrew said that the vulnerability of the library’s budget post-repeal of Gallagher is not sustainable long-term and will likely put the library in the position of cutting staff hours, halting programs or limiting services, should one of these attempts to reduce assessment rates be successful.
Patti Grafmyer, town administrator, reported that if the town’s question passes, they hope to continue with their park expansions, and increase the availability of staff and projects within their public works department. She added that if the town experiences future losses of revenue, it could result in a cut to services such as park expansions, snow plowing and maintenance of the town as a whole.
All other local special districts were approached and invited to collaborate on the idea of a ballot question to freeze individual district assessment rates. Due to various reasons, such as the cost of going to the ballot, only the library and the town are going this year.
The library and town encourage local residents to stay informed on the ballot questions in the upcoming election, to register to vote if new to the area, and make sure to remember to mail in ballots or go out and vote in person on Nov 2.