Commissioners: Brief was filed to protect taxpayers
This time of the year, we as the Board of County Commissioners see more and more misinformation from those who would use the same for political gain. We attempt to respond and clarify as our schedules permit. However, we simply do not have the time to address every politically motivated accusation and commentary.
Accordingly, we encourage everyone to look to the source and underlying motivations of all stories and do not simply believe everything you read.
The most recent example of such a misinformed story came in the form of a letter to the editor claiming that the County Commissioners have violated your trust by not releasing the costs of a recent legal defense. The truth is that Eagle County has a legal defense fund previously budgeted and appropriated to pay these costs, but has not yet receive any billings.
Eagle County voters successfully de-Bruced under the TABOR amendment in 1995. This ballot question was approved by an overwhelming 72 percent of our local voters. Recognizing that increased growth means increased governmental services, the voters authorized the county to retain and expend revenues above the strict TABOR formulas. De-Brucing has allowed Eagle County to maintain itself as a world-class community without degradation in services.
This year, a group of taxpayers hired a local attorney to challenge this 1995 election. The legal basis for such a challenge was a recent court ruling out of Denver overturning Gov. Bill Ritter’s actions in freezing school district mill levies throughout the state.
In addition to overturning Gov. Ritter’s actions, this Denver judge took the additional and unnecessary step of invalidating all previous de-Brucing questions by local school districts.
This decision called into question all de-Brucing issues passed over the last 16 years, including those of Eagle County. It is this part of the ruling with which Eagle County takes exception and filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court indicating the same. The county did not take a position as to the actions of Gov. Ritter.
The legal brief is not politically motivated nor in support of Gov. Ritter. The filing of the brief, and all costs associated with the same, is in direct response to the threatened challenge to our 1995 ballot question.
The county is mandated to defend any action that seeks to overturn the wishes of our voters even if it is 13 years after the fact. To do otherwise would clearly be a violation of the taxpayer’s trust.
The county will continue to defend this and other legal challenges as it always has. It is disingenuous to claim a violation of taxpayer trust for providing a defense of existing law created by our voters over 13 years ago.
As with all issues concerning your local government, please feel free to contact any one of your county commissioners if you doubt the accuracy or truth of claims being made over the next few weeks.
The Eagle County commissioners are Sara Fisher, Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon.
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