Rippy agrees to explore bill for real estate tax
State Rep. Gregg Rippy butted heads with the Pitkin County commissioners over concealed weapons yesterday but he gained points by vowing possible support for a tax on real estate sales.
Rippy, a Republican from Glenwood Springs, clashed with Commissioner Mick Ireland, a Democrat from Aspen, over the Legislature’s approval this spring of statewide criteria for issuing permits to carry concealed weapons.
Ireland sharply criticized Rippy for supporting a bill that stripped local jurisdictions of determining whether they would allow concealed weapons and controlling the issuance of permits. Ireland was particularly critical of an amendment that he claimed doesn’t allow higher education officials to prohibit carrying of weapons. He said bar owners are also shackled and that elected officials couldn’t ban weapons at their meetings.
Ireland demanded answers from Rippy on how he could support such a bill.
Rippy responded that the bill was a good one because it provides a standard regulation across the state. Before, different jurisdictions had different laws on concealed weapons and a person could be a lawbreaker simply out of confusion.
He also claimed the legislation improved conditions by creating a better system among law enforcement agencies for tracking people who carry concealed weapons.
Rippy suggested that Ireland didn’t know exactly what the bill said. “I think you’re so far off base on this, Mick, you’re waving at things that don’t exist,” he said.
He claimed that higher education officials could still easily prevent students from carrying weapons.
Ireland responded by producing an amendment to the bill that he said verified his interpretation of the bill.
After bickering for at least 10 minutes, the men agreed to disagree over the concealed weapons bill. The other four Pitkin County commissioners sat through the exchange without adding much, although Shelly Roy and Jack Hatfield made comments that indicated they also opposed the state bill.
The commissioners connected better with Rippy while lobbying for help creating a tax on real estate sales.
The TABOR Amendment to the Colorado Constitution currently prohibits any town or country from asking their voters if they would create a real estate transfer tax. Aspen has a tax in place because it existed before the TABOR Amendment was approved by state voters. Pitkin County doesn’t have a real estate transfer tax.
Commissioner Patti Clapper asked Rippy to sponsor a bill that would place a question on the statewide ballot to remove a prohibition to new real estate transfer taxes. Rippy agreed to consider such legislation.
The legislator, who represents the entire Roaring Fork Valley, said he would consult with the Legislature’s legal services department and the state Department of Revenue for guidance on such a bill. No timing of a possible bill was discussed.
Clapper said she strongly supports creation of a real estate transfer tax in Pitkin County to generate additional revenues for special needs. The tax proposal could be tied to specific uses. Aspen, for example, uses its real estate transfer tax to operate the Wheeler Opera House and subsidize housing and childcare.
The tax would be a small percentage of the cost of a real estate transaction. With multimillion-dollar sales the norm in Pitkin County, the tax has the potential to raise a high amount.
Clapper said Pitkin County will face an increasingly tough time with its budget because the federal and state governments are expected to cut their assistance in coming years. Therefore, the flexibility to ask for a real estate transfer tax is vital.
“We’re going to get a hell of a lot more unfunded mandates trickling down,” she said.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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