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County: Sheriff's tax doesn't violate TABOR

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FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
In a Jan. 16 filing, El Paso County asked a District Court judge to toss a lawsuit filed on Dec. 26 by anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment limiting government growth adopted by state voters in 1992.

TABOR, Bruce says, requires that if a voter-approved tax increase generates revenue above an estimate stated in the election notice for a ballot measure, the tax rate must be lowered and the excess money refunded to voters. The county did neither after the sheriff’s .23 percent sales tax was approved in 2012 and raised more annually than the $17 million county estimate. “They are only supposed to get whatever they asked for,” Bruce says.

In its motion to dismiss, the county says it didn’t violate TABOR, and that voters exempted the sheriff’s tax revenue from TABOR caps as part of the measure. “There is no allegation that the Defendant systematically disregarded TABOR’s requirements or that the current alleged violation, if it occurred at all, is anything other than an isolated oversight,” the county argues.

The sheriff’s tax, which sunsets at the end of 2020, has raised roughly $100.9 million and pays for 192 of the Sheriff’s Office’s 800 personnel.

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