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KSJD Local Newscast - May 17, 2024

Property taxes were on the minds of the Montezuma County commissioners this week. At their meeting Tuesday, the board discussed a bipartisan bill recently signed into law in Colorado that is designed to offer tax relief to both home and business owners. Ever since voters in 2020 repealed the state’s Gallagher Amendment, which kept residential property-tax rates artificially low, lawmakers have struggled to deal with the consequences. When property taxes soared, legislators reduced the tax-assessment rate. This helped homeowners but shrank revenues for local governments, forcing counties such as Montezuma to make painful budget cuts. Under the complicated provisions of the new bill, residential assessment rates will go down except when school-district mill levies are involved. Commercial rates will also go down. However, two initiatives that will likely be on Colorado’s November ballot could cut tax rates even more, resulting in less money for local governments. Commissioner Jim Candelaria urged people to keep in mind that most property-tax revenues do not go to the county. At the commissioners’ workshop Monday, Treasurer Ellen Black said that when her office collects taxes, those funds are immediately divided among more than 30 different entities. Those include school districts and fire, cemetery, library and water districts. She said the county gets only a small portion of the tax bills.

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.