TABOR, or the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, is an amendment to the Colorado Constitution voters approved in 1992. The amendment limits the amount of revenue a government can collect and spend, and requires voter approval for tax increases and to issue debt and other multiyear financial obligations. Government-owned businesses, or "enterprises," which are funded primarily by user fees, are not subject to these limitations and requirements.
Voters may lift TABOR's revenue restrictions, known as "de-Brucing." Most of Colorado's largest municipalities and virtually all of the state's school districts are exempt from TABOR revenue restrictions. When revenues exceed TABOR limits, the Town has two choices:
- Refund the money in some manner
- Ask voters to keep and spend the money on local services (up to a year retroactively)
Both options have occurred in Castle Rock the past.
The Town's current TABOR status
Castle Rock voters in November 2021 approved a temporary, 10-year "TABOR timeout." Through 2030, this authorizes the Town to retain and spend any "excess" TABOR revenues solely for:
- Fire protection
- Emergency medical services
- Roads and other transportation purposes, including, but not limited to, the Crystal Valley/I-25 interchange
The TABOR timeout only impacts the Town's revenue limit under TABOR. Other aspects of TABOR remain in place, including those requiring voter approval for new taxes and to issue debt and other multiyear financial obligations.
2021 TABOR 'Surplus'
Due to favorable economic conditions and increased Town revenue, the Town exceeded its TABOR revenue cap for 2021 by $14,641,727, according to preliminary 2021 year-end financial information. Various factors have contributed to the surplus, including strong sales tax and housing growth and open space shareback funds from Douglas County for park improvements. In fairness to the budget process, it's important to disclose that all eligible revenue received during 2021 ultimately contributed to the TABOR surplus.
Given the factors that contributed to the Town's 2021 TABOR surplus and voters' approved uses of the funds, Town Council approved transferring funds from three tax- and impact fee-receiving funds into the TABOR Fund to retain and spend as voters approved.
|Funding sources and amounts||Amount|
|Fire Capital Fund||$500,000|
|Uses for TABOR funds||Amount|
|Funding for construction of Fire Station 156||$6,000,000|
|Funding for space buildout at Police Headquarters||$2,000,000|
|Funding for wildfire mitigation initiatives||$1,000,000|
|Funding for road/transportation purposes||$5,641,727|
| Total|| $14,641,727|
The Town Attorney has reviewed the sources and uses of funds, and they are in compliance with the voter-approved ballot question.
Town TABOR history
The following TABOR surplus amounts have been rebated to Town residents or retained for purposes authorized by Castle Rock voters:
|2002 through 2003||no surplus||n/a|
|2005 through 2014||no surplus||n/a|
|2016 through 2020||no surplus||n/a|