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TABOR discussion set for Tuesday

Members of the Basalt Town Council met in an executive session July 3 to discuss how to move forward with rectifying a TABOR issue that was discovered earlier this year by finance director Christine Hamrick. Advising the elected officials was Denver-based attorney Dee Wisor, who is considered a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights authority, and town attorney Jeff Conklin.

The discussion will move to the public realm on July 9, according to Mayor Jacque Whitsitt. She said there will be an opportunity for public comment during that meeting.

Council, during its June 25 meeting, was divided on how to resolve the property tax overcharge, though the majority of public opinion has been to issue taxpayer rebates. The problem is thought to have emanated from property tax rates that have fluctuated since 1994. 

“Previous councils and administrations believed the 1994 vote allowed changing the mill levy,” according to Town Manager Ryan Mahoney. That assertion was backed up by two former Basalt mayors, Leroy Duroux and Rick Stevens, who spoke recently to The Aspen Times.

Mayor Whitsitt on Tuesday night declined comment on the former mayors’ opinions, saying simply, “We feel our staff and council have pushed every avenue on this issue.”

TABOR requires a maximum rebate of four years when there’s an over collection, according to Mahoney, and the town has worked on scenarios that will not “hamstring” Basalt’s operations. The total potential rebate is around $1.98 million. Property tax credits, Certificates of Participation and the sale of town assets are possible options though COP’s seemed most favored during the June meeting.

Next Tuesday’s discussions will center around two potential ballot questions, one about the mill levy and one about the refund, according to Whitsitt.

The Basalt Town Council agenda, which includes the time of the TABOR issue, will be posted later this week on the town’s website,