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Tax activists aim to educate

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Concerned taxpayers can slog through pages of court briefs to find out what might be legal or illegal on their tax bills ” or they can attend the meeting of the local Taxpayers for Common Sense on Thursday.

The group, which says its goal is to educate property owners about taxes, is now registered with the state as a nonprofit corporation.

The group’s attorney, local resident Rohn Robbins, will be at the public meeting to talk about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), how property taxes are derived, and what sort of taxes property owners might be looking at in the future.



He will also discuss a recent Denver court decision which ruled that Governor Bill Ritter’s waiving of revenue limitations for school districts, a process known as de-Brucing, was invalid because they did not comply with TABOR laws.

If the decision is upheld, it could mean that other taxing districts exempt from the revenue limitations might have to make changes, too.



The case is being appealed, and several counties, including Eagle County, have filed “friend of the court” briefs defending their exemption processes.

There will also be a question-and-answer session, said organizer Buddy Shipley, so come with questions prepared. Government officials may be on hand to answer questions, too.

“We’re inviting all the taxing entities,” said the group’s treasurer Dick Froberg. “We especially want the commissioners there.”



The taxpayers group first formed in February when a jump in assessed property values caused property taxes to rise also. The group demanded answers from local taxing officials who chose not to lower their tax rates and keep the increased revenue.

Now, the group is concerned about property tax increases in 2007 which are paid in 2008 and the impact of 2008 property taxes paid in 2009, said organizer Buddy Sims.

However, assessed values will stay the same in 2008, said Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin.

“The only anticipated value changes in Eagle County for 2008 are due to property demolition, new construction, additions to existing improvements or the creation of new subdivisions and/or new condominium projects,” he said.

In recent months, the taxpayers group has been questioning some of the de-Brucing decisions of governments such as Eagle County. The group has been digging up old de-Brucing documents, and have discovered paperwork is missing for the county, Shipley said.

When the county held a public vote in 1995 to be exempt from the revenue limitation laws, it was required to provide a ballot information booklet to all voters 30 days before the election ” and it seems the county may not have done so, Shipley said.

“The public was not informed as to what the ballot issue meant,” he said. “Of course, if we can’t find the documents, it’s hard to prove they didn’t do something.”

However, County Finance Director John Lewis said the required information was distributed.

“Seventy-two percent of voters said yes 12 years ago,” Lewis said. “They had to be saying yes based on something.”

While it’s too late to do anything about taxes collected last year, the group hopes to inform residents for future years.

“Hopefully we might come up with something that will turn a few things around,” Froberg said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

What: Taxpayers for Common Sense meeting

Who: All interested tax payers and taxing district officials are invited

Where: Singletree Pavilion, Edwards

When: Thursday 7 p.m.

For more information: See http://www.ectaxpayer.org

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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