County will pay tax brief bill |

County will pay tax brief bill

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County has paid for a legal brief to defend the county’s taxing policies ” and apparently those of several other counties, too.

The county filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in August in response to a Denver court case where the judge ruled that Gov. Bill Ritter’s waiving of tax revenue limitations for school districts, a process known as “de-Brucing,” was invalid.

The judge said that Ritter’s decision did not comply with Taxpayer Bill of Rights laws, which restrict how much tax revenue governments can collect. Many governments, including Eagle County, are exempt, or “de-Bruced,” by public vote from those limitations.

However, the Denver judge’s decision, which is being appealed, also called all other “de-Bruced” districts into question. The county’s “de-Brucing” process had also been legally challenged by a local tax activists group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, so the county decided to hire Denver bond attorneys Hogan and Harston to write a brief defending the county’s decision.

The brief was filed along with several other counties ” Ouray, Larimer and Boulder ” but Eagle County footed the bill, according to county officials.

Edwards resident Buddy Sims, who helped start the taxpayers group, said he received confirmation from the participating counties that Eagle County initiated the brief, and that it didn’t ask for any help in paying for it.

He said he thinks the brief is politically motivated, and wants to know why taxpayer money is being spent on it.

County officials said they haven’t received the bill for the brief, but Sims said local attorneys have told him the 50-page document could cost as much as $50,000.

However, County Attorney Bryan Treu said the county was planning to file the brief regardless, and only asked the other counties to join in order to add more weight to the brief.

The court decision is especially important for the county because the taxpayers group is threatening to take the county’s taxing policies to court.

“We’re the only county that this wasn’t a hypothetical for,” he said.

Commissioner Peter Runyon said he gave the approval for the brief after Treu approached him and the other commissioners individually, and said the deadline to weigh in on the case was coming up.

“Sometimes expediency requires that we make a decision like that,” Runyon said. “(Sims) is on the other side of this, and he’s just grasping at straws.”

The county is simply defending the legality of their taxing process and protecting its money, he said.

“If that case if lost, we will have to refund literally millions of dollars,” Runyon said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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