Once the commissioners place a county question on the ballot, by state law, they can’t campaign for the question, but can pass a support resolution.

Park County commissioners passed a resolution Aug. 20 supporting the passage of the county ballot question on mill levy adjustments. 

If voters approve the ballot measure, the commissioners will be able to adjust the mill levy to keep property tax revenue from declining below 2020’s revenue. 

Taxes are determined by multiplying the property’s assessed value by the mill levy.

Registered voters still must approve any increase in total taxes.

“This allows us to float our mill levy up to the point where we will collect what our existing TABOR cap allows, without having to have a vote to raise the mill levy,” Commissioner Dick Elsner wrote in an email to The Flume.

“Because we aren’t going above our TABOR cap, it isn’t a tax increase, but a stabilization of our income,” Elsner said. 

According to Assistant Manager Cindy Gharst, the highest mill levy Park County government can have is 24.065 mills. 

Every year, the mill levy used to determine taxes is adjusted downward in order to meet another TABOR cap.

The second TABOR cap limits a budget to the previous year’s plus an increase equal to that year’s county growth based on the value of new building construction and the Consumers Price Index. (See The Flume article Aug. 21, page 2, on ballot issues)

For 2020’s county budget, the mill levy was reduced from 24.065 to 20.0289 to meet the TABOR limit on budget increases.

With uncertainty regarding how the state will determine the rate of assessment after 2020, the county resolution states the county mill levy can be increased annually to keep the total of county property tax revenue from decreasing.

Elsner said passage of the county mill levy adjustment will protect the county finances if the state’s assessment rates on residential properties continue to drop. 

“As far as county taxes are concerned, people should only see the normal CPI increase, which is around 1.6% per year,” Elsner said.

“People may say that their taxes went up a lot more, but that is due to fire districts and the school districts [increases],” Elsner said. 

The county ballot question will keep taxes at the same level as last year plus growth and inflation, regardless of whether the state lowers any assessment rate.

If the county measure passes, the new base starting in 2021 will be $9,624,000 (total 2020 property taxes) plus growth and the inflation rate.

If the state reduces any assessment rate, passage of the county question will allow a higher mill levy to backfill any property tax loss from assessment rate reduction.

Hearing officer

In the past, county personnel acted as hearing officers for onsite waste water system complaintants who requested a hearing. 

County Manager Tom Eisenman said County Attorney Erin Smith suggested using an outside third party who was qualified and knowledgeable to hear appeals to county onsite septic regulations. 

The contract hearing officer would only be used when the county hearing officers have prior awareness of a case. This is to avoid any look of favoritism.

On the recommendation of Eisenman and Sheila Cross, development services director, the commissioners appointed Jeff Stoll to the position. 

Stoll has a background in public health and environmental health consulting.

Vouchers 

Vouchers in the amount of $191,640 were approved for payment. Numbers were rounded by The Flume.

Public works spent $95,170 and the general fund spent $78,800.

Four funds spent between $2,000 and $4,150. They are conservation trust, grant, human services and fleet services. 

The sales tax fund spent $294 and E-911 spent $30.

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