Tuesday, November 7, 2000
Steamboat Springs For the first time in the state's history, voters had a chance to provide themselves tax relief. Instead, they overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 21.
About 66 percent of voters in the state rejected the measure also known as Tax Cut 2000. It would have provided taxpayers a $25 annual reduction on every utility, vehicle, income and property tax bill.
In Routt County, about 63 percent, or 6,117 voters, cast "no" votes. About 32 percent, or 3,096, voted in favor of the plan.
The measure would have cut taxes for 63 counties, 269 municipalities, 176 school districts and more than 1,500 special districts in the state. The proposal would have reduced funds that provide government services including fire and police protection, libraries, schools, highway and transportation projects and prisons.
Local officials feared the proposal would cripple districts, especially smaller districts with small budgets.
"I'm very excited about the vote," said West Routt Library District Director Jacquie Boyd.
Had the amendment been approved, Boyd believed her district would have lost 30 percent of its operating revenue in the first year. The library would have had to cut funding for new materials and staffing, she said.
County Commissioner Dan Ellison also was relieved.
"People recognized it would have had a significant detrimental effect on local government," he said. "Now that it has been defeated, we now can anticipate revenue and set our budget accordingly."
Had the measure been approved, the county would have lost close to $450,000 in revenue from taxes.
Amendment 21 was spearheaded by Douglas Bruce. The Colorado Springs resident declined to comment about the election results. He has said he supported the measure because it would have saved families $530 each year for life.
Hayden resident George Kostiuk was a major supporter of the initiative.
"I guess the people have spoken," a disappointed Kostiuk said Tuesday evening. "Voters should have taken advantage of this opportunity."
Kostiuk believes the arguments raised by opponents of the amendment "were a little underhanded."
"They came out and told the public that this would get rid of fire districts and libraries," he said. "That changed people's minds. Whether that would have happened we will never know."
Had the amendment been approved, Bruce believed the state would not have let districts go without funding and would have used the state's revenue to cover the replacement of the tax cut.
Bruce made the claim despite the fact the proposal did not require the state to replace lost revenues. Bruce also believed local governments and the state could have used TABOR-related money to offset the tax cut.
Chuck Vale, representing the Friends of the North Routt Fire Protection District, campaigned against the amendment.
"We have clearly done a lot of education," he said. "If it would have been approved, it was going to be devastating to local government and local control."