South Suburban tax measure passes

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South Suburban Parks and Recreation District's tax adjustment measure, Ballot Issue 7A, passed by a narrow margin.

The measure passed with 51.4% of the vote, according to  unofficial results on Nov. 7, with 48.6% opposed. Results won't be finalized until Nov. 13.

Ballot Issue 7A allows South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, which covers a wide swath of the south Denver metro area, to adjust their mill levy rate up or down without voter approval starting in 2021.

According to the ballot language, the measure would help the district offset reduced revenue as a result of property tax reductions caused by the Gallagher amendment.

Colorado's residential property tax assessment rate fell to 7.15% from 7.2% in 2019, according to the Colorado General Assembly's website. The Gallagher Amendment adjusts residential property tax rates downward over time.

The measure does not allow the district to adjust the rate at will, but rather ties future changes to the current rate of 7.15%. 

The district's current mill levy rate is 8.364, according to South Suburban's 2019 budget. Voters have previously approved several increases to the levy, and in 2017 approved a measure that indefinitely extended the district's tax structure.

The district lost $85,000 in revenue as a result of this year's decrease in the asssessment rate, said Mike Braaten, South Suburban's deputy director. 

"The passage of 7A frees us from experiencing sudden drops in revenue, and allows us to keep up with inflation as we work to provide the recreational opportunities people want," Braaten said. 

Braaten said he can understand skepticism of the measure, and said the district's budget undergoes an annual audit and the process is overseen by an elected board. 

"We'll continue to be fiscally responsible," Braaten said.  "And we're happy to answer questions."

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