The Title Board will consider setting a ballot title on Wednesday for a proposal to lower property tax rates statewide, siphoning an estimated $1.2 billion in revenue from local governments.
Initiative #14, Reduction in Property Tax Assessment Rates, would lower the tax rate for nonresidential property by three percentage points, to 26% of assessed value, and drop the residential rate to 6.5% from 7.15% beginning in 2023.
A fiscal evaluation from Legislative Council Staff noted that the impacts of the aggregate $1.2 billion drop would depend upon local circumstances, and that the state would have to backfill $280 million per year for school districts.
"The measure will also decrease revenue to cities, counties, special districts, and school districts, resulting in fewer local government services, including police and fire protection, hospitals, transportation, education, and libraries, among other services," Legislative Council Staff noted.
In a previous announcement of the ballot initiative, Michael Fields, executive director of the conservative advocacy group Colorado Rising State Action, said that “families and small businesses need a break — and the best way to help is by keeping property taxes low.”
Fields and Lindsey Singer are the measure's designated representatives. Last year, they also sponsored a successful ballot initiative that now requires voter approval for the creation of enterprises — government-owned businesses that are exempt from constitutional revenue limitations — that take in a certain amount of income. Voters passed Proposition 117 alongside Amendment B, which halted further decreases to the residential property tax rate.
The Title Board is a three-member panel that evaluates whether proposed ballot initiatives adhere to the constitutional single-subject requirement. If so, it sets a title that appears before voters. The title must be brief, yet encompass all central features of a measure. Proponents are then eligible to collect signatures to place their initiative on the statewide ballot.
Designated representatives of five related ballot initiatives to reform Colorado's direct democracy process have also asked the Title Board for reconsideration at this week's meeting. Earlier this month, the board set titles for two versions of the "Petition Rights Amendment," and rejected the other three.
Proponent Donald L. "Chip" Creager III, in a one-page email, told the board he believed members wrongly denied a title for the rejected measures, and set too long of a title on the approved versions.