State Sen. Jack Tate, R-27, who announced in 2018 that he would not run for re-election when his term ends next year, held a town hall meeting on October 12 at the South Metro Fire Rescue Headquarters in Centennial. Though it was sparsely attended, Tate, who has served in the Colorado legislature since 2014, spoke on several important subjects.
As he has previously, Tate talked about his belief that voters would do well to repeal the 1982 Gallagher Amendment that froze the ratio of property value in our state to 45 percent for residential and 55 percent for non-residential. Tate disputed the oft-mentioned theory that there is a conflict between TABOR (the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights) and Gallagher, asserting that there has been a clash between the two only “twice in the past 27 years.”
Since 1982, when Gallagher was passed by the voters, residential property values have been rising faster than non-residential property values. As a result, the assessment rate on residential property has decreased from 21 percent in 1982 to 7.15 percent in 2019, so as to maintain the constitutionally required ratio of 45 percent residential to 55 percent non-residential. Tate was a sponsor of this year’s (required) legislation, SB19-255, that instituted the newly lowered 7.15 percent residential rate. (It was 7.2 percent last year.) Non-residential property is assessed at 29 percent of its value.
Tate believes that the Gallagher Amendment hurts parts of Colorado that have relatively little commercial property and where residential values are not rising as fast as they are in other places. He would freeze the residential assessment rate where it is today, unless the legislature lowers it. As long as we have TABOR in place, says Tate, it serves as a protection because the assessment rate can never be raised without a vote of the people. Tate says that repealing Gallagher will provide a way to finally lower non-residential property taxes to help businesses in our state by allowing residential taxes to rise naturally as actual values go up.
According to a recent article in the Denver Post, and the commonly-held belief of many in our legislature, including Tate, Colorado currently has the third-lowest effective property tax rate in the United States.
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