Pitkin County taxes will go up in 2010 | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County taxes will go up in 2010

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Taxes collected in Pitkin County next year will total $110.8 million, up 12.7 percent from this year’s tax total of $98.3 million.

County commissioners certified the mill levies of all taxing districts within the county Wednesday, a day after adopting the county’s 2010 budget and setting the levies for various Pitkin County taxing districts.

The taxes finalized Wednesday are for 2009, to be collected in 2010.

Taxes devoted to schools will make up the biggest piece of the overall pie in Pitkin County – 46.8 percent. The county will retain about $24 million, or 21.6 percent, including $6.05 million (5.5 percent of the pie) to support general, road and bridge, and social service operations. The county’s Open Space and Trails tax collections make up 11 percent of the county’s overall take.

Though commissioners only have approval authority over county mill levies, Commissioner Jack Hatfield voted against the administrative step of certifying the mill levies set by other districts. Some of them, he noted, did not lower their levies to provide tax relief at a time when overall property values are up 32 percent.

Many districts are limited by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which caps how much additional property tax revenue they can take in as property values rise. Other districts have “fixed” levies that voters have exempted from TABOR; they can realize a large windfall in revenue when property values skyrocket unless they voluntarily adjust their levy downward.

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Among districts that are exempt, four had levies that weren’t adjusted downward, according to the county finance office – Colorado Mountain College, Basalt Library, Carbondale Fire Protection District and Crown Mountain Metro District.

Other districts with fixed levies adjusted them downward through the use of temporary credits, though most will still take in more revenues than they would have been allowed to were they subject to TABOR limitations, the finance office noted. Those districts include: Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, the city of Aspen, the Basalt and Snowmass-Wildcat fire protection districts, Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen Village Metro District, Aspen Historic Park and Recreation, East Aspen Metropolitan District, Gateway Metro District, Snowmass Village GID and W/J Ranch Metro District.

Commissioner George Newman said he was impressed by the number of districts that chose to lower their mill levies to some extent, guessing it would cut his property tax bill by several hundred dollars.

“The sum total really adds up for the individual taxpayer,” he said.

jurquhart@postindependent.com

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