Teller Officials and Leaders Closely Monitoring Special Legislative Session

Fate of Emergency State Gathering Could Determine Tax Bills
Rick Langenberg

Teller voters may have expressed mixed views on a variety of heated races and ballot issues during the Nov. election.

But when it came to Proposition HH, the proposed state tax relief measure proposed by Democratic leaders, including Governor Jared Polis, Teller residents basically said “Hell No,” trouncing this measure by more than a two-to-one margin. This nearly paralleled the statewide tally, which declared Proposition HH dead by more than 20 percentage points.

This ran counter to earlier poll numbers that had Proposition HH emerging as a winner. Even Cripple Creek’s head lobbyist, Solomon Malick, had this plan in the winner column in an earlier presentation before the city council.  The spending for the pro-HH said also was quite impressive and outpaced that of their opponents.

The proposition offered to give property owners needed relief from escalating, dramatic value hikes, which will lead to big hikes in their tax bills, but at the expense of taking away much of their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) refunds.

Polis conceded that the measure lost big and showed a bit of humor in the defeat by breaking an emergency glass with a bat.  But in a tone of utmost seriousness, he has called a special session, which began last Friday. The proceedings are expected to last throughout much of this week.

Closely monitoring the procedures are the Teller County Commissioners, who led the charge locally against Proposition HH. They had plenty of company in the opposition movement, with anti-HH resolutions adopted by basically every local entity in Teller County and the Pikes Peak region and by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce.

Huge advertisements appeared in daily Colorado newspapers and on television, chastising this measure, in the final weeks of the campaign. City and county government leaders, coupled with business owners, mounted an aggressive campaign against HH.

Opponents contended that the state package was way too complicated and questioned the legality of tampering with TABOR funds.

Despite some complaints about the TABOR restrictions, Coloradoans have consistently made it clear they favor this law, first approved in Colorado in 1992, or at least don’t like messing with TABOR refunds at the ballot box.

However, now the real work has started. And already, both state Republicans and Democrats seem at odds regarding an ultimate solution to the problem. GOP leaders want to cap the assessment rate, while Dems are looking at ways to assists a variety of citizens, and not just property owners.  They have mentioned that renters need to be part of the equation.

In any case, both sides agree that something needs to be done fast.

“I am calling this session to urge the Legislature to bridge partisan divides and put people over politics to provide immediate property tax relief to Coloradans facing extreme spikes from their 2023 property bills,” Polis said, in a prepared remarks regarding the need for the special session.

This action is extremely rare, and in fact, will mark only the second time a special session has taken place under the Polis administration.

Area leaders are expected to closely watch the proceedings and provide commentary.

Teller officials previously favored an alternative package, allowing government to lower mill levy rates on a temporary basis, without further repercussions from the TABOR law. But to date, few governments have not been taking much action on this measure, proposed by Senator Mark Baisley and approved by lawmakers last springs.

As a result, the outcome of this session will play a big role on the tax bill property owners face next year.