Pictured Left to Right: Douglas County Commissioners George Teal, Abe Laydon and Lora Thomas
Individual members of the Board of Douglas County Commissioners and Douglas County today announced they have joined a lawsuit filed against the State of Colorado challenging Senate Bill 23-303 and Proposition HH due to single-subject and “clear title” violations.
Joining the original plaintiffs, the Commissioners and County seek that the bill should be declared void and unconstitutional, precluding its implementation and enforcement; or, as an alternative, that the ballot title should be corrected “to provide a clear, detailed and politically neutral explanation of its contents.”
“Any way you slice it, SB23-303 and Proposition HH do not prevent residential property owners in Douglas County from experiencing what will be the largest property tax increase in state history,” said Douglas County Commissioner and Board Chair Abe Laydon.
The lawsuit alleges that the bill title does not clearly express the subject of the bill and is misleading; that Proposition HH title does not clearly express the subject of the ballot measure; the ballot measure does not have a single subject; and that both violate the state’s single subject rule for legislation and clear intent provisions in violation of the Colorado Constitution.
“Selling this ballot item as ‘property tax relief’ while sending your TABOR refunds to fund state government – instead of to you; making long-term changes to the TABOR formula and failing to specify that the state surplus is being used to unnecessarily backfill local taxing authorities is misleading,” said George Teal, Douglas County Commissioner and Board Vice Chair.
“SB23-303 and Proposition HH foisted upon us at the 11th hour of the legislative session without the contribution or approval of the local governments it directly affects, not only fails to fix the enormous property tax hikes resulting from the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment but confiscates taxpayers’ last remaining bit of tax relief–their TABOR refunds,” said Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas.
The Board also contends that the measure is not clear, because it does not provide the actual rates for property tax changes or projections for reductions in revenue.
Specifically, the bill and ballot titles both fail to include any numbers concerning the property tax assessment rates, and do not clearly inform voters that the property tax assessment reduction is minimal.
Colorado law and precedent require that voters be informed of significant changes to law and of relevant numbers when they are asked to vote on a ballot measure.
Douglas County invites all property owners to stay engaged during the many scheduled community conversations via live town hall meetings yet to come. For more information, visit us at douglas.co.us and search live town halls; email at [email protected]; or call the Board at 303-660-7401.