League warns of ballot measures’ effects

The Colorado Municipal League is trying to let local and special governments know how three controversial questions on this fall’s ballot would affect them.

In a report released Monday detailing the expected impacts of the revenue and debt-limiting measures, Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, the nonpartisan league said each would be devastating to local government’s finances.

“These are very, very dramatic in terms of their impact on municipal finance unlike I’ve seen in a very long time,” said Sam Mamet, executive director of the nonprofit group. “This comes on top of two years of significant budget cutting and layoffs and service reductions. This really just cuts directly into revenue streams for local governments and just adds more stress to an already stressful situation.”

The league’s analysis also shows that of the measures’ provisions that call for cuts in some taxes, at least one will have the consequence of raising fees elsewhere.

Amendment 60 calls for local government’s enterprise funds, which pay for municipal services such as sewer and water, to be subject to the same property taxes homeowners and businesses pay. As a result, they would have little choice but to impose higher fees to cover the cost of those services, said Jodi Romero, financial operations manager for Grand Junction, which is a CML member.

Romero said if all three measures pass, the city would lose up to $11 million as a result, which would come on top of the $15 million in revenue the city has already lost.

She said that’s particularly troublesome because the recession has caused the city to eliminate dozens of full-time positions, curtail street and building projects and impose an across-the-board 3 percent pay cut for all city workers.

A loss of more revenue would call for even deeper cuts, including having to defer maintenance projects indefinitely, she said.

“It’s a concern to have to defer that kind of major maintenance because it will end up costing more in the long run because you’re going to have to replace instead of being able to extend the life of those kinds of things,” Romero said.


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