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Government Affairs Monthly Report

11-1-2019

First City Wide Property Tax Since 1978 Approved in Steamboat

Citizens of Steamboat Springs approved ballot measure 2A passed last week, instituting a 2-mill municipal property tax to find fire and emergency services. The measure earned 2,882 “yes” votes to 1,831 “no” votes. While other entities levy property taxes on buildings in city limits, the city hasn’t been the beneficiary of a property tax since 1978.

“I want to thank the voters of Steamboat for trusting us, and now, it’s up to City Council to deliver on the promises,” said city council member Kathi Meyer, who led the campaign in support of the measure. “I think — when we put a reasonable proposal in front of them — we have very smart voters.”

Under a 2-mill property tax, homeowners will pay an annual tax of about $15 per $100,000 of actual valuation. Commercial property owners will pay $58 per $100,000 of actual valuation under the proposed tax. Revenue from the 2-mill property tax is forecast to generate $1.4 million to $1.5 million in annual revenue.

With the tax in place, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue plans to use the revenue to add three full-time positions that are both firefighters and emergency management technicians. The city’s 2020 budget will be adjusted to allocate those revenues in the upcoming budget discussion at the Tuesday, Nov. 19, Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, according to City Finance Manager Kim Weber

This fire department pursued increased funding for staff to cope with the increase in calls, particularly calls to respond to multiple emergencies at the same time. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s most recent strategic plan calls for 20 additional full-time equivalent staff members and the addition of a new fire station near downtown Steamboat by 2025. The department is expected to increase current staffing from eight people per shift to 10.

Under this plan, the cost to operate the department is projected to rise from $4.5 million this year to $7 million in 2025. This 2-mill tax would prioritize the funding of operating costs, not the projected $12 million cost of building a new fire station.


Makeup of Steamboat Council Doesn’t Change Much After Election

The current makeup of the Steamboat Springs City Council will remain largely unchanged after Counil President Jason Lacy won his reelection bid. Lacy was elected to the two-year, at-large City Council seat, earning more votes than George Krawzoff, former city transportation director. Lacy received 2,517 votes to Krawzoff’s 1,061.

Three other seats on City Council were up for election but featured uncontested races. They’ll be occupied by incumbents Robin Crossan (2,793 votes) in District 1 and Heather Sloop (2,514 votes) in District 3 and newcomer Michael Buccino (2,705 votes) in District 2.

Scott Ford, who held the at-large seat Lacy won was term limited after serving six years on the council.

The new council will immediately jump into a work session about bears, implementing the Steamboat Springs Downtown Plan and special events in the city at the same meeting.

Proposition CC Fails at the Statewide Level

Proposition CC, a statewide initiative that asked voters to give up statewide TABOR refunds indefinitely was defeated in early November by a 55% - 45% margin.

  • A "YES" vote would have allowed the state to keep revenue above the current limit instead of issuing TABOR refunds on years when the state collects too much. The money from CC would have been added to the general revenue where it would be spent on things such as schools and roads.
  • A "NO" vote keeps the current structure in place where the state would have to issue TABOR refunds for revenue above and beyond the required limit.

Voters were NOT being asked to give up your state-issued income tax refunds. This only deals with excess money the state collects that is currently required to be refunded to voters.

TABOR

Not every year, but in some years, Colorado must refund you money because of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which you might know as TABOR.

Voters passed TABOR in 1992. The Constitutional amendment requires the state and local governments to get voter approval before enacting new tax increases or bonds, and it puts a cap on how much tax money Colorado can collect and spend. The rate is based on inflation and population. If the state collects too much, you get back money.

Proposition DD Passes Statewide by a Razor Thin Margin

Colorado voters have approved a ballot measure legalizing sports betting and taxing it to help fund a state water conservation plan. Proposition DD passed 50.7% - 49.3%. It had bipartisan support and only token opposition. The election was so close that the outcome could only be determined after each and every vote was tallied.

The measure allows Colorado's 33 casinos to start offering wagering on professional, collegiate, motor and Olympic sports in May. Both in-person and online wagering are allowed.

Colorado can legalize sports betting because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May 2018. However, Colorado law explicitly makes sports betting illegal. DD attempts to make it legal, while at the same time initiating a new voter-approved tax on the revenues from sports betting, to be spent on Colorado's Water Plan.

National News - Agencies Increase Residential Appraisal Threshold

On September 27, 2019, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (collectively “the Agencies”) adopted a final rule increasing the threshold for requiring an appraisal in residential real estate

House Passes SAFE Banking Act – A Win for States with Legal Weed

On Wednesday, September 25, the House passed H.R. 1595, the "Secure and Faire Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act," by a bipartisan vote of 321 - 103. This bill, cosponsored by Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-OR) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), creates a safe harbor for federally-insured financial institutions to provide services to cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the substance.

Currently thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, but it remains a Schedule-1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, legitimate cannabis businesses in states that have legalized the substance, or businesses that derive any income from them - including real estate - can't work with federally-insured financial institutions due to anti-money laundering laws. This means that many such businesses have to operate on a cash-only basis, which creates difficulty collecting taxes and enforcing regulations, as well as increases safety risks to the communities they are in. The SAFE Banking Act would create a safe harbor allowing financial institutions to work with legitimate cannabis businesses, thus resolving those issues.

NAR supports the rights of states and residents of those states to create laws aligned with state and resident interests. NAR supports allowing businesses that are properly registered and that are legitimate by state standards to have the ability to access banking services. NAR sent a letter of support for the SAFE Banking Act to the full House of Representatives ahead of the vote, urging them to pass it, and also joined a coalition letter which included the American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association, as well as Scotts Miracle Grow. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on this issue in July, and is expected to hold a markup of its companion bill, S. 1200 (cosponsored by Senators Cory Gardner, (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley, (D-OR)) before the end of the year.