Except by later voter approval, if a tax increase or fiscal year spending exceeds any estimate in (b)(iii) for the same fiscal year, the tax increase is thereafter reduced up to 100% in proportion to the combined dollar excess, and the combined excess revenue refunded in the next fiscal year.
For the first full fiscal year of each proposed district tax increase, district estimates of the maximum dollar amount of each increase and of district fiscal year spending without the increase." (Emphasis added.)
The purpose of TABOR (3)(c) is to prevent government from “lowballing” the true cost of what it requests in order to lure voters to support it. Note that the 2012 ballot title also did not tell voters the truth, though TABOR (3)(c) requires it to list a “...full fiscal year dollar increase) ANNUALLY.” Sad to say, that was also false.Bruce further argues in his lawsuit that the state legislature recognized this provision of TABOR to be applicable to a similar situation involving marijuana taxes and then corrected it. From the lawsuit:
The state legislature is also required to enforce the constitution. It did so recently by referring issue BB to the ballot issue. Issue AA had understated the fiscal year spending in its marijuana tax increase ballot language, also a violation of TABOR (3)(c). Findings by the legislature are given great weight in enforcing the constitution. The legislature found the falsely-low figure given to voters triggered liability under TABOR (3)(c). The legislature then sought “later voter approval” of the corrected figure at the next election.The sum of 1A tax collections collected in excess of $17,000,000 per year since the tax started is $15,873,572, if one includes an estimated 2017 tax collection of $22 million.
SHALL EL PASO COUNTY TAXES BE INCREASED BY APPROXIMATELY $17 MILLION ANNUALLY TO DIRECTLY FUND THE URGENT PUBLIC SAFETY NEEDS IDENTIFIED BY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA, THE CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL SERVING ALL RESIDENTS OF THE CITIES, TOWNS AND UNINCORPORATED AREAS WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF EL PASO COUNTY, AS CRITICAL TO PERFORMING HIS STATUTORY OBLIGATIONS TO ALL EL PASO COUNTY RESIDENTS, BY INCREASING THE COUNTY’S SALES AND USE TAX RATE BY TWENTY-THREE HUNDREDTHS OF ONE CENT ($0.0023) PER DOLLAR PURSUANT TO PART 1 OF ARTICLE 2 OF TITLE 29, COLORADO REVISED STATUTES;
WHICH NEEDS ARE SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFIED IN THE AREAS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE.... AND WITH AN EIGHT-YEAR SUNSET PROVISION, SUCH SALES AND USE TAX INCREASE TERMINATING WITHOUT THE NEED FOR FURTHER ACTION ON JANUARY 1, 2021?
In the last paragraph of the ballot question, the following language was used: "...with all revenues generated and the earnings on such revenue to be collected and spent each year without limitation by the revenue and spending limits of ...Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution...." The voters thus authorized the County to collect amounts above the estimated $17 million and to spend the same.
The voters approved the 0.23 sales tax increase for public safety purposes. Budget estimates made in 2012 were based on the available data at that which reflected the ongoing impacts of the economic downtown [sic] commonly known as the Great Recession and were offered only as budget projections for the purposes giving voters a general idea of collections that might be expected if the current economic conditions continued.
If retail sales had continued weak the projections would have been very close, if they had worsened the projections would have been too high but what we had was a robust economic recovery with retail sales further bolstered by millions of dollars worth of roof replacements following the July 28, 2013 hail storm and then strong car sales bolstered by the replacement of Volkswagen diesels.
Voters are consistently more discerning than some people assume. They understood that they were approving a 0.23 percent sales tax for critical public safety needs and they understand that if retail sales go up there will be additional money available for that purpose and likewise that if sales fall short some of the promised improvements may be delayed.