The Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees, in prompt fashion, gave the green light for their 2024 draft budget, but received a cautionary message.
Town Manager Becky Frank told the board at a recent meeting that the 2024 budget is fairly similar to 2023, with no real big surprises. “There is nothing that really stands out,” said Frank, when describing the 2024 budget.
She told the board that its overall fiscal portrait for 2024 is pretty lean. She described the 2024 budget as quite conservative regarding prospective revenue.
Mayor Todd Dixon, though, warned the elected trustees that the town could face much tougher financial decisions, if Proposition HH is approved by the voters of Colorado this November. This is the proposal, supported by many state Democratic leaders, offering temporary relief to property owners due to the big rise in values, as part of the 2023 reappraisal process. Some counties have experienced a 40-percent-plus average hike in value, which translates to much higher taxes.
Proposition HH asks voters whether to use the surplus from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) to reduce property taxes, fund school districts and backfill counties, water districts, fire districts and local governments.
Frank noted that their budget will get much leaner if this proposition gets approved. She indicated that the way property tax revenue is handled would drastically change, as it would impact their regular allotment of TABOR monies.
This state plan would require the consent of the majority of voters this November. The issue has already ignited much opposition from local leaders, including the Teller County commissioners. Instead, they favor an alternative legislative solution regarding this issue, which state lawmakers have already approved This proposal, initially sponsored by Senator Mark Baisley, would offer relief by allowing local tax entities to lower their mill levies on a temporary basis without facing any repercussions from the TABOR law.
Dixon, based on comments last week, has joined the chorus of anti-HH critics.
Frank said that the proposed Proposition HH looks good on paper, but when the specific impacts are analyzed, it could have bad results from small governments, such as Green Mountain Falls.
If the town has to cut expenses, this could have bad consequences, as already the preliminary draft, is indicating a slight $23,000 deficit. The total spending budget for the GMF general fund is slated at about $800,000.
In the last few years, the GMF budget has fared better than past years due to the infusion of significant grant dollars, especially regarding the Gazebo Lake project and contributions from the Kirkpatrick Family Foundation. The town’s capitol improvement budget lists close to $200,000 in projected revenue for next year.
The big question for GMF deals with road improvements and infrastructure with the town allocating about $271,000 for these operations next year. Many citizens may argue that this isn’t enough. Also, residents are quite protective about the GMF swimming pool operations, which concluded the 2023 season with one of its more successful spurts. It was open on the weekends on a continual basis between early June and early September.
The GMF government has offered limited revenue for this operation, another subject that could face much scrutiny during forthcoming budget sessions. These meetings will kick into high-gear, following the Nov. vote.
In other GMF news, Mayor Todd Dixon has announced that he will seek another term as mayor. This seat is one that will be determined in the April election.