Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Update: Law firm analyzes ballot measures

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:55 AM

UPDATE, 10:55 a.m. Wednesday: Matthew Gray tells us via a voice mail that no one paid for the analysis. The firm researched the measures as a public service, he says.

——- ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, OCT. 12 ———

Tuesday, El Paso County commissioners got the long version of why Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 are bad news for various government agencies, and in turn, Colorado residents from Sherman and Howard law firm representative Matthew Gray.

Gray: Public finance is his specialty.
  • Gray: Public finance is his specialty.

Introduced by County Treasurer Sandra Damron, Gray gave a two-hour analysis his firm undertook to show the true outcomes if the measures are passed.

Damron says El Paso County paid nothing for the analysis.

Gray pointed out some things that might not have been considered before. As for Amendment 60, which will require enterprises and authorities to pay taxes, consider this:

* Denver International Airport is an enterprise. As such, it would have to pay taxes if Amendment 60 passes. That would mean those tax bills would be recovered from carriers, who in turn would pass the cost on to passengers. That could hurt competitiveness with other airports, Gray says, not to mention raising the cost to fly for everyone who uses DIA.

* The same goes for Springs Utilities, which we told you about already in our newspaper. But consider this. While utility rates would go up to offset property taxes Utilities would have to pay, residents who itemize on their tax returns would lose out. That's because property taxes are deductible on your tax returns, while utility bills are not.

* Amendment 61's restrictions on borrowing would probably keep agencies from using purchasing cards, because it's a form of debt, no matter how short term. That would mean the city and county would lose out on premiums its credit-card vendor pays for use of the cards. That comes to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

* Because Amendment 61 would bar the state from borrowing at all, the school year might shift from March through November, instead of running from September through May. That's because schools rely on property taxes, which aren't collected until January and February. Under the current arrangement, schools borrow short-term from the state, which also borrows the money to give to the school districts, until property taxes are paid and distributed to the districts. Just think, instead of family vacations to the beach, you can go snow skiing instead.

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