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Deadline looms for task force tackling property tax relief in Colorado

Deadline looms for lawmakers on how to tackle rising property taxes in Colorado
Deadline looms for lawmakers on how to tackle rising property taxes in Colorado 04:04

A task force convened by the legislature has until next week to present a plan to address skyrocketing property taxes in Colorado.

Meanwhile, liberal and conservative groups are pushing dueling ballot measures.

Initiatives 198, 199 and 200 would cap any increase in property tax revenue at 4% year over year and provide backfill for local governments and special districts as long as the money doesn't come from the state education fund.

Initiatives 95 and 96 would make any statewide cap on property taxes subject to a local vote and impose an additional tax on homes valued at $2 million or more.

Scott Wasserman with the Bell Policy Center told the task force: "The answer is right in front of us; rolling averages, smoothing out these assessment cycles is the best guard against a spike. We don't need an arbitrary, draconian limit."

Josh Penry, with Colorado Concern, the state's largest organization of CEOs, said even with a cap property taxes would increase by billions of dollars: "For those who say a cap is unacceptable under all circumstances, I would say 'dig deeper and ask yourself how much- how much is enough?'"

Small business owners are feeling the pain of rising property taxes too. Two longtime business owners also went before the task force, to ask for help.

Rosalyn Redwine has been styling hair for 50 years and opened her own salon on East Colfax in 1979. While other businesses have come and gone, Her's is a fixture but she says it's getting harder and harder to make ends meet: "We're doing everything we can just to hold on."

The state, she says, isn't making it easy. She says her property taxes have nearly doubled in the last five years to almost $20,000. She's not alone.

Cherilyn Haliburton and her husband opened The Word Bible, Book, and Music store on East Colfax 26 years ago: "The Lord told me this is what I needed to do."

She could use divine intervention after receiving an $18,000 tax bill a week before it was due: "You try to save to maybe guess how much they're gonna be, but we don't know."

Desperate, Haliburton and Redwine asked the property tax commission for help.

"Help. Please we need help. We're not asking for a miracle, we're not asking for a handout," Redwine pleaded with them.

They're not even asking for a tax break.

"What we're asking for is what homeowners can already do when they have a mortgage; break it down into 12 easy payments over the course of the year," says Jonathan Singer with the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

He says the plan would help small businesses statewide: "What's good for Colfax, this time, is good for Colorado."

Redwine worries without help she may have to raise prices. Most of her clients, she says, are older and on fixed incomes: "They're barely making it themselves. I hate to think of closing my business. I'm not quite ready to retire and I'm not ready to stop doing hair."

Haliburton too won't go down without a fight: "I love what I do. I love what I'm doing and so I'm going down kicking and screaming."

Redwine and Haliburton are part of the East Colfax Community Collective, which came up with the idea of spreading payments out over the course of a year.

The head of the group says local governments, special districts and schools don't object to the idea. But the property tax commission may be another story. Haliburton says that based on the reception they received, it seems unlikely members will adopt their idea.

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