ML Correction

Mill Levy Correction
Posted on 11/12/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Mill Levy CorrectionRead the one page summary of the Mill Levy Correction here.

Did you know, that local property taxes in the Garfield Re-2 School district account for just 10% of the general operating budget of the district? The remaining 90% is “backfilled” by the State of Colorado. (This does not include any voter-approved mill levy overrides or bond programs.)
This imbalance comes in large part from a decades-long misinterpretation of tax laws. In order to make the local and state contributions more balanced, the required fix means that property taxpayers in the Garfield Re-2 School district will see their property taxes increase gradually, by one mill per year, for the next 12-years.

How did we get here?
In 1992, the Colorado voters passed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights or TABOR. TABOR limits the amount of tax revenue the state and governmental entities like school districts can retain and spend. School Districts and other governmental agencies were able to ask the voters to “de-Bruce” or “de-TABOR.”

Districts that de-TABORed had permission from voters to keep their local property tax collection mill levy at the level in place at the time of the de-TABOR vote. Garfield Re-2 voters approved this relief in 1998.
Misinterpretation of state statute

The Garfield Re-2 School District has done nothing wrong. We have historically set our mill levy rate based upon the Colorado Department of Education’s direction. However, CDE and others interpreted state statute in such a way that de-TABORed districts should reduce their local property tax. Legal interpretation now concludes the practice of lowering the mill levy was incorrect. Property taxes should never have been reduced.
The Mill levy rate when Garfield Re-2 “de-TABORed” was 26.177 and it has steadily decreased to 4.7 mills where it was frozen in 2007. Now, many school districts across the state are required to increase their general operating mill levy to correct the long-standing misinterpretation.

What is the fix?
This change in tax collection is mandated by House Bill 21-1164, which was signed into law in June. The Legislature has required districts to determine what their correct mill levy should be and tax credits were put in place in December 2020 to backfill the difference between a district’s current mill levy and the mill levy that should have been in place because of the de-TABOR vote.

The legislation required CDE to develop a gradual correction plan for affected districts, allowing them to increase their local property tax collections by a small amount every year until the tax credits are zero. A total of 127 of the state’s 178 school districts are impacted by this taxation correction.

What does it mean for property taxpayers in Garfield Re-2?

Garfield Re-2 voters passed a de-TABOR vote in 1998. Before the General Assembly froze mills in 2007, the district's mills decreased to 4.7.  The state has determined that the corrected mill levy for Garfield Re-2 is 16.282.   With the current mill levy set for Garfield Re-2 at  4.7, it is necessary to make an adjustment of 11.582 mills over the next 12 years to correct the general operating mill.  

These are NOT additional funds that will come to Garfield Re-2. They are a correction to adjust the local share of Total Program funding for education to the amount that is legally required by state statutes and the State Constitution. There will be a one mill increase each year for the next 12 years until our funding reaches 16.282 mills for the general operating mill. 

Beginning in the 2021 tax year for taxes to be collected in 2022, taxpayers in our district will see a maximum of one mill per year increase in their annual property taxes due to this adjustment for Total Program funding. A mill is a $1 tax payment for every $1,000 of taxable property value, which is set by a county assessor.


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