La Plata County is in an interesting spot. Its commissioners and independent finance committee have said it needs to raise taxes to pay for services sooner or later.
On Thursday, the Denver Post reported that statewide tax collections have been so great that taxpayers, for the first time in years, may get TABOR refunds next year and income tax rate cuts, both automatically triggered by a $575 million windfall above the tax cap.
That would be money in pockets, which makes the timing of a TABOR repeal on the 2020 ballot terrible from the vantage of TABOR opponents. But the bigger picture is the larger than expected tax receipts. It is good news for Coloradans and the state’s economy.
La Plata County has been making the case for more local tax collections for years. We agree that some of the shortfall over the last eight or nine years will need to be made up. The only place we might differ with tax-raise proponents now is about whether we are paying for people or services or both (and whether, if we pay more in county taxes, we can expedite county permitting).
That is moot, since the county decided Tuesday not to pursue a tax hike on the 2019 ballot. Commissioner Gwen Lachelt had a wise take on this.
It feels irresponsible to not go for the tax raise sooner, Lachelt told the Herald, “because it’s a serious financial situation.” But, she said, “if we are really serious about a very well-done engagement effort, it probably takes us further toward success than trying something this year.”
We are keen to see that engagement effort. And if we knew we could pay less in state taxes offset by more in the county levy, we might call that a bargain.