Residents of Castle Pines have a choice in November with ballot issue 2D, which asks voters whether to de-Bruce after the city's revenues exceeded TABOR limitations.
The city hit its TABOR limitations after two years of revenue growth that included $700,000 in state grant money to build Elkridge Park and $268,000 in Highway Users' Tax Funds, said Mayor Jeffrey Huff.
The combined revenue from the state-issued funds pushed Castle Pines $108,000 over its TABOR limits, forcing the city to go to its residents for permission to keep the money or return it to taxpayers.
“Almost any revenue a city derives is subject to TABOR,” Huff said. “TABOR is a complex statute and it is difficult for people, even experts, to really understand all the implications of TABOR.”
The grant revenue for Elkridge Park was from Great Outdoors Colorado and was realized in 2010 and 2011, Huff said. The revenue went into construction of the $5 million park and was part of the calculation that pushed Castle Pines over its TABOR calculation, Huff said.
The revenue from the HUTF distribution came to Castle Pines as residents began registering their vehicles with Castle Pines after the city's 2008 incorporation, he said.
Colorado distributes HUTF money to counties and municipalities based on the number of vehicles registered and lane miles within the community boundaries. According to state law, the HUTF money is appropriated for road maintenance, construction, acquisition of rights of way and other public road improvements.
“In the early years of Castle Pines, because we're a new city, we had no registered vehicles because they were all registered in Douglas County,” Huff said. “So as they re-registered in Castle Pines, that formula changed and we went from zero revenues in 2008 to over $250,000 in 2011. That fast ramp-up in three years was well in excess of the growth limits allowed by TABOR. Those two things combined were the primary drivers of why we have an issue here.”
City leaders have heard little controversy over the ballot initiative, which, if it fails, would result in a negligible return to taxpayers, Huff said. There are no known groups voicing an opinion against the ballot issue, he said.
“The important thing we're trying to get across to residents is we're not asking for a tax increase from residents at all,” Huff said. “It's really a matter of taking care of our roads and letting us continue to build our parks and trails.”