Aspen fire district to forego tax windfall | AspenTimes.com

Aspen fire district to forego tax windfall

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen Fire Protection District will forego $373,000 in windfall property tax revenues, its board of directors agreed last week.

The district will use a temporary credit to lower its 2010 mill levy in order to take in only as much in property tax revenues as the roughly $3 million it collected in 2009, according to Fire Chief Darryl Grob.

“We’re returning all of the windfall,” he said.

The fire district is among the local taxing districts in line to receive a big boost in revenues thanks to a significant leap in property values. It is among the area taxing entities that are “de-bruced” – released by voters from statewide limits that keep revenue growth in check as property values rise.

Without taking in the windfall, the district will still be able to complete construction of its new downtown fire station on time and on budget, according to Grob, and will move ahead with the purchase of a new, $1.1 million aerial ladder truck, to be delivered in the spring of 2011.

“We examined our financial plan and budget in some detail,” he said.

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The five-member citizen board of directors determined the district was in a position to take care of its needs without holding onto the windfall and decided to instead reduce its mill levy by 0.139 mills for next year.

“It seems the appropriate thing to do, especially in light of the fact that when we sat down and analyzed the numbers, we could make everything happen,” Grob said.

Property owners are bracing for higher property tax bills as the result of about a 38 percent increase in property values, countywide. Taxing districts that are in line for a big windfall because their revenues aren’t capped by the state Taxpapers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, are under particular scrutiny.

The Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors agreed to keep its revenues flat and forgo all of the hospital district’s windfall. Directors of the Aspen Historic Park and Recreation District, which supports the operations and facilities of the Aspen Historical Society, have agreed to take in only the cost-of-living increase TABOR limits would allow, though the district is not subject to the limits.

Pitkin County commissioners decided to reduce the Open Space and Trails Program mill levy to take in an additional $1.6 million – about half of its estimated windfall.

The Basalt and Rural Fire District will also split the difference, temporarily reducing its mill levy to take in a $315,000 windfall, while leaving an additional $333,000 in taxpayers’ pockets.

The board of directors for the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District is expected to decide Tuesday what to do with an estimated $700,000 in windfall tax revenue. The district’s current levy, of 4.352 mills, generated about $2.3 million in revenue this year.

janet@aspentimes.com

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