Property Taxes and Mill Rates

Knowing we’ve underfunded and DEfunded our schools (and by extension the futures of our children), why would anyone oppose an initiative (Amendment 73) to fix those issues and better our schools?

The truth is, no one who is educated should oppose funding public education. As a community demanded and required service for the future of Colorado’s economy, stakeholders should be continually supporting public education and even demanding more resources be allocated. Colorado ranked 2nd in the nation for return on educational investment – our districts continue to prove that they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

For many, it comes down to the almighty dollar, here and now. It’s difficult to part with your hard earned wages but if one actually viewed public education as the return on investment that it brings to the future, there’s no doubt that investing in public education is the smart thing to do.

We really need to talk about the investment we currently make and educate our community because there are some political groups telling fabricated stories about school funding. Explaining our school funding methods in Colorado (or transportation, healthcare, social services, etc.) takes hours but let’s try another quick method so you can see things with your own eyes.

One handy tool for people to view is on the Jefferson County Assessor’s website.  https://www.jeffco.us/722/Property-Records-Search

Let’s take an average sized home (4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2487 square feet) located in Jefferson County, located between Wadsworth Blvd and Sheridan Blvd and within close proximity to several of our schools over 50 years old. For privacy, we won’t list the actual address, all property records can be located on the Assessor website as public documents.

Zillow lists the current estimate for this home at $417,448 although this is an impact of the current housing demand and is predicted to drop. This particular home was last purchased for $210,000 in 2011.

In 2012, the home was valued at $223,200 by the assessor and the mill levy for school funding was 50.616. The mill levy for the school district (3A) passed in November of 2012, in the amount of $39 Million which was still a cut due to state economy issues/Gallagher/TABOR in the amount of a $45 Million reduction.

In 2013, the home was valued at $224,900 (an increase) but the mill levy for the school district was 50.369 (a decrease.) Confusing, right? So maybe the increase from the band aid mill levy and bond in 2012 will show up in the next year?

In 2014, the home was valued at $224,900 (the same as 2013) but the mill levy for the school district was 50.165. Another decrease for school funding.

In 2015, the home was valued at $281,720 (an increase of almost $60,000 and we see the economy recovering significantly in Colorado) but the mill levy for the school district was 47.487 (a significant decrease for school funding.)

In 2016, the home was valued at $281,720 (the same as 2015) but the mill levy for the school district again decreases as the economy improves to 45.941. It should be noted that the school district requested a mill and bond during this year and attempted to relay to stakeholders how desperate the funding situation was becoming as the state still had not restored any funding to public education.

In 2017, the home was valued at $328,170 (an increase of another $50,000) but the mill levy for the school district was 42.878 (another significant decrease in funding.) Also note that the mill levy rates for the school district decreased every year from 2012 to present while property values have been stable and increased significantly year to year.

For record, the total property taxes paid for this home (this is divided between all items funded for services to this home, not just schools) are as follows:

2017 $1642
2016 $1703
2015 $1703
2014 $1439
2013 $1408
2012 $1374

Even with passing mill levies and bond initiatives, TABOR and Gallagher work together to racket down funding for the items we pay taxes for. This was a brilliant way to avoid paying taxes, which works if you are not interested in maintaining your public services and don’t care about your property values or our children and the staff who are serving them. Or roads, parks, snow removal, side walks, trails, bike paths, health care, services for our most needy, mental health, police, etc…

The last major investment the community made in our schools occurred in 2004. Additionally, due to the Negative Factor (accurately renamed the BS Factor by our legislators), our schools have been defunded by over $7 Billion in Colorado. Actually, $7,339,741,705. That’s how much money has been taken away from Colorado education in the last 10 years in addition to the loss of funding from our local mills. That’s money REMOVED from the education of children, the future of Colorado, the availability and salary of educators and education staff, and has led to 4 day school weeks, facilities falling apart, cuts to mental health, cuts to art programs, cuts to calendars, and so many other services.

$694,607,797, that’s the amount of money that Jeffco has been defunded in 10 years in addition to the decreasing local level mills.

There is over $1.2 Billion in deferred maintenance needed at our schools in Jeffco, with no way of funding the deficiencies without taxpayers approving a bond.

So, when an opportunity like Great Schools, Thriving Communities comes around, everyone in the community should be joining in to ensure the public knows to vote for this. Amendment 73 also stops the racket down effect of funding our schools.

92% of our community will not see any tax impact at all. The 8% who do, pay fewer taxes than those making less money than their $150,000 per year and more:

Every individual property owner will still see a decrease in their property taxes and then a freeze to stabilize the funding. Small businesses will finally see a relief that they will not see or receive without this measure.

Corporations also still get their tax breaks, even with Amendment 73, Great Schools, Thriving Communities:

 

In addition to being the best measure to address our funding issues that we’ve seen since Amendment 23, Amendment 73 (Great Schools, Thriving Communities) can stabilize education funding and take a burden off of the state budget. Imagine what our district could do with an additional $120 Million -$140 Million more per year in protected funding to serve our children!

We have wonderful, grassroots volunteers who know public education is a worthy investment and yet so many are exhausted from volunteering for mill and bond campaigns every few years to stop the bleeding from our schools only to have to repeat the effort continually.

Ready to end the insanity of NOT adequately funding our schools? What are your priorities and how do you plan to help? We’ll be needing volunteers shortly, email us to get involved! volunteer@supportjeffcokids.org