School finance bill likely to boost taxes |

School finance bill likely to boost taxes

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Property taxes in Roaring Fork School District Re-1 likely will increase in 2008 after Senate Bill 199 went into effect May 9.

The increase in the amount of property taxes that can be collected was previous­ly limited to enrollment growth and infla­tion. It’s now directly correlated to the increase in assessed value of the proper­ties themselves, according to Shannon Pelland, RFSD assistant superintendent of business and finance.

And it’s no secret those values are likely to increase in the area. Pelland has seen annual increases in the total assessed value in the district of 3 to 25 percent over the past 12 years.

If the average of assessed value of property in the district goes up by 10 per­cent, then the share of local taxes that can be collected also goes up that much. For the RFSD’s fiscal year 2007- 08 draft budget, local property taxes are expected to net around $20 million, or nearly half the district’s projected revenues.

The bill raises the limit on increases in local property taxes, but it’s too early to tell exactly what the impact might be. Garfield County, which constitutes the majority of the district, won’t have new figures for assessed property values until August.

But increases in taxes won’t mean the school district gets more revenue, Pelland said. More tax revenue would allow the state to pay less.

This begins to address the growing inequities between the state share of K-­12 funding and the local share. Colorado has over the years been paying more of that share, which means a loss of local control, according to Gov. Bill Ritter. Rit­ter also said it would help address a “fis­cal calamity” ” the state’s education fund becoming insolvent in 2011.

“The state has had to pick up a greater and greater share of K-12 funding because of limitations on the previous school finance act and limitations imposed by TABOR,” Pelland said.

Some have called the bill an unconsti­tutional tax increase on most Colorado homes and businesses without putting the matter to a vote.

“I understand the quandary the state is in with its budget, but at the same time, I think the implications for this bill are much more significant to areas like ours that are seeing higher increases in assessed values,” Pel­land said. “I do have some concerns about that ” especially in an area where the cost of living is already an issue.”

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