SHALL COLORADO RIVER WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT, ALSO KNOWN AS THE COLORADO RIVER DISTRICT, TAXES BE INCREASED BY AN AMOUNT UP TO $4,969,041 IN 2021 (WHICH INCREASE AMOUNTS TO APPROXIMATELY $1.90 IN 2021 FOR EVERY $100,000 IN RESIDENTIAL HOME VALUE), AND BY SUCH AMOUNTS AS ARE GENERATED ANNUALLY THEREAFTER FROM AN ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX LEVY OF 0.248 MILLS (FOR A TOTAL MILL LEVY OF 0.5 MILLS) TO ENABLE THE COLORADO RIVER DISTRICT TO PROTECT AND SAFEGUARD WESTERN COLORADO WATER BY:
- FIGHTING TO KEEP WATER ON THE WEST SLOPE;
- PROTECTING ADEQUATE WATER SUPPLIES FOR WEST SLOPE FARMERS AND RANCHERS;
- PROTECTING SUSTAINABLE DRINKING WATER SUPPLIES FOR WEST SLOPE COMMUNITIES; AND
- PROTECTING FISH, WILDLIFE, AND RECREATION BY MAINTAINING RIVER LEVELS AND WATER QUALITY;
PROVIDED THAT THE DISTRICT WILL NOT UTILIZE THESE ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYING TO FALLOW IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE; WITH SUCH EXPENDITURES REPORTED TO THE PUBLIC IN AN ANNUALLY PUBLISHED INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL AUDIT; AND SHALL ALL REVENUES RECEIVED BY THE DISTRICT IN 2021 AND EACH SUBSEQUENT YEAR BE COLLECTED, RETAINED AND SPENT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY LIMITS PROVIDED BY LAW?
Total District Fiscal Year Spending
2020 (estimated) $ 4,535,680
2019 (actual) $ 3,741,037
2018 (actual) $ 3,904,492
2017 (actual) $ 3,949,075
2016 (actual) $ 4,433,415
Overall percentage change from 2016 to 2020 2.3%
Overall dollar change from 2016 to 2020 $102,265
Proposed Tax Increase
District Estimate of the Maximum Dollar Amount
of the Proposed Tax Increase For Fiscal Year 2021
(the First Full Fiscal Year of the Proposed Tax Increases):
BALLOT ISSUE NO. 7A: $4,969,041
District Estimate of 2021 Fiscal Year Spending
Without Proposed Tax Increase: $4,554,680
Summary of Written Comments FOR Ballot Issue No. 7A:
Funding is needed so that the River District can continue protecting water supplies for the farmers and ranchers that put food on our tables. The District will use this funding to protect drinking water supplies on the Western Slope. The District has clearly demonstrated the need for new revenues to protect West Slope water and keep our water on the Western Slope. The District's mill levy is consistently one of the lowest levies on the West Slope. 7A is a modest increase of less than 1/4 of a single mill. The District developed a robust fiscal implementation plan that explains exactly how these revenues would be spent. Without additional resources, the District will be forced to reduce its workforce even more, and this will jeopardize its ability to protect the West Slope’s water security. The District is accountable to Commissioners in each of the 15 counties within the District, so every county has a say guiding the work of the River District.
My role as a water resources engineer has provided me with the opportunity to really understand the importance of investing more in the protection of West Slope water and agricultural, industrial, municipal, and environmental/recreational users. The River District's mission is to protect these resources and the challenges in front of us with changing climate, hydrology, and water quality only emphasize the critical nature of your role.
This effort is non-partisan and enjoys broad support from conservative and progressive communities -- agricultural associations, conservation organizations and chambers of commerce have all come together to support and to protect West Slope water. The increase in property taxes is very small but will go a long way towards protecting West Slope water and keeping our water on the Western Slope. The Colorado River District is accountable to taxpayers and has created internal safeguards within a Fiscal Implementation plan to describe exactly how the money will be spent. It is good that this measure does not include a sunset provision because the need for protecting West Slope water will not go away. Front Range cities are buying up water rights and drying up productive farmland on the West Slope - some of which has been in families for generations. The Colorado River District needs the resources to protect our water, keep local food production, and preserve healthy rivers that contribute to our quality of life and outdoor lifestyle. I support this because it would mean only $1.90 per year for each $100,000 in home value per year. That is a very modest amount.
Summary of Written Comments AGAINST Ballot Issue No. 7A:
Unlike most other districts with taxing authority, the River District is an appointed, not an elected board and does not have direct accountability to the taxpayers. The increase in mill levy does not have a sunset date and does not require the board to come back to the voters to prove they've used the money wisely in order to reauthorize the tax. There is no clear list of projects that this money will be used for. The River District refers to a Fiscal Implementation Plan but refused to bind the tax increase to this plan. As taxpayers, we don't have assurance that they will use the money as they say, and a future board could change the plan. The mill levy is a significant increase rather than something more incremental. The language of the measure is noble in its ambition but vague in its application. Please vote ‘NO’ on Ballot issue 7A.