FRANÇOISE BERGAN: Passing Amendment B will be a property tax increase for Colorado families 

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Voting “yes” on Amendment B, repealing the Gallagher Amendment, is a financial blow to families across Colorado. If Amendment B passes, it will be the largest property tax hike in our state’s history. Proponents of Amendment B are denying the fact that the cost of living will rise without Gallagher in place, jeopardizing the financial stability of families and residents in Aurora. 

Aurora Councilwoman Francoise Bergan

The global pandemic has created chaos and tragedy for most of us and because of it, we are facing a possible economic recession. This November is not the time for a property tax increase — let alone the largest property tax increase in Colorado history — nor is it the best time to endanger the affordable housing market and Colorado real estate. 

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, imposed a limit on the amount of residential property taxes residents would pay with a 45%-55% ratio in order to avoid skyrocketing property taxes as the Colorado housing market began to boom. This has saved homeowners and renters $35 billion over the last 38 years. Combined with rising home values, Gallagher caused assessment rates on residential properties to decrease from 21% in 1982 to 7.15% today. By voting “no” on Amendment B, assessment rates are expected to fall again to 5.88% in 2021 under the Gallagher Amendment. 

The absence of Gallagher from the Colorado Constitution will make life harder for taxpayers, because Colorado will grow, the cost of living and the housing market will inflate, and we won’t have any protections against the wave of property taxes to follow.

Seniors, teachers, single parents and low-income residents, face greater consequences being on fixed incomes if Amendment B passes. In 2020, the social security cost of living adjustment was just 1.6%; people relying on social security for housing expenses will have difficulty paying 10-20% more in taxes and ultimately will have to choose between paying their tax bill, or paying for groceries, health care and other living expenses. 

When we’re dealing with finances, no one likes to be unprepared or surprised by an unexpected charge. Amendment B is trying to repeal the Gallagher Amendment without a replacement plan, and that is exponentially concerning. Beyond having to pay nearly 10-20% more taxes in the first two years, if it passes, there is no clear indication for what will happen next. Will lobbyists line up for special tax break legislation? Will residents have to pay the difference? Will lawmakers impose fees to fund their budget, should we end up in a full-fledged economic recession?

It’s important to understand how this will affect all Colorado residents. Renters will pay for this property tax hike through increased rental rates passed down by rental housing providers. Homeowners will face a 10-20% increase in property taxes in the first year alone, which could lead to late mortgage payments or the bank foreclosing on their home. Fixed-income residents and at-risk families won’t be able to keep up with the added costs. Amendment B is just a means to an end to some, but really, this all-or-nothing tactic will affect us all.

Amendment B is a 10-20% property tax increase that Coloradoans should not be asked to pay. Vote “NO” on Amendment B to keep property taxes low and housing and rent more affordable. 

Francoise Bergan represents Ward 6 on the Aurora City Council.

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