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Guest Column: Talking TABOR and town transparency
Guest Opinion by Ryan Mahoney
ryan mahoney

Guest Opinion by Ryan Mahoney

This guest opinion is in reference to a story published in the May 16 edition, “TABOR info session set for Basalt Library.”

Thank you to the Roaring Fork Weekly Journal for its coverage of our community. It’s important to have community journalism that supports and informs public engagement. With that said, I believe it’s just as important for members of our community to receive accurate information about issues impacting the town. In your recent article about the town’s mill levy and TABOR issue, there are several issues that need to be clarified. 

First, the town does not believe it can refund tax dollars over multiple years without voter approval. That is how the town’s leadership and legal counsel interprets TABOR. So it’s inaccurate to make statements and declarations that the town can just return the money over multiple years. No matter how many times it is said and published, it will not change the guidance being given to town council about multi-year obligations. 

Second, the town of Basalt has been transparent and accountable about this issue from the time it was discovered. If TABOR requires government to police itself, that’s precisely what we have done in Basalt. When town staff discovered the mill-levy issue, we alerted council members, scheduled public meetings, worked with the press and mailed a community survey discussing the TABOR issue and seeking community feedback. At all points, the town has accepted responsibility and committed to finding a legally correct resolution to this TABOR issue. That, in my opinion, is the hallmark of transparency and accountability. 

Finally, neither town council nor staff have yet decided how to resolve the mill levy or the TABOR issue. At some point during every work day in the town, we spend time reviewing policy and legal directions, communicating with council and community members, and preparing financial scenarios for council to consider in the near future. But at this point, no decisions or directions have been set. 

What I would like to ask the community is to be engaged and participate in the process. Attend council meetings and provide your feedback and opinions. There’s more collaboration needed before a final decision is made. This situation clearly shows Basalt’s commitment to transparency and accountability, and provides an opportunity to work as a community to keep our town moving in the right direction. 

Ryan Mahoney is town manager for Basalt. The Roaring Fork Weekly Journal welcomes guest opinions. Send to