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Even after property taxes spike, two cities are trying to raise them even higher

Golden and Fort Collins are still going to go to the ballot in November to ask voters to raise the city portion of their property tax.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A record number of people appealed their property tax bills in Colorado this year. 

Homeowners appealed to try to lower the assessed value of their homes after residents received sticker shock from sky high property tax statements. 

Two cities are still going to go to the ballot in November to ask voters to raise the city portion of their property tax. 

“I fully understand that it may not pass,” Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt said. 

Fort Collins voters are being asked to raise the city mill levy by three mills to provide $11 million for affordable housing. 

“We are in danger of pricing out people; teachers, police officers, who can’t afford to live in our community, yet give so much,” Arndt said. 

The three mills would add $21 for every $100,000 of home value. 

In Fort Collins, the average home is assessed at $588,000, according to the Larimer County Assessor. 

That means, if this passes, the average home would see an increase of $120 per year. 

“I think we would use it to create subsidized housing. I’d like to see it to go to some workforce housing,” Arndt said. 

The mayor also said they considered the political environment. According to the assessor, 18% of people in Fort Collins protested the value of their home. 

“We did take that into account, that most people’s assessment had gone up to almost, sometimes in some ways, 40 percent,” Arndt said. “Is it just about what I get or what it takes to make a great community that’s strong?” 

Voters passed Proposition 123 in 2022. That will fund affordable housing using one-tenth of one percent of state income tax revenue. No money from Proposition 123 has been allocated yet. Fort Collins can request funds from that pot of money. 

“I just don’t think that [Proposition] 123, alone, is going to be sufficient to solve all the issues that we have around housing in Ft. Collins, affordability and supply wise,” Arndt said. 

In Golden, voters will be asked to increase the city mill levy from four mills to 10 total mills, an increase of six. 

“We understand it's a difficult time to put a question like that out there. And it's always a difficult time to put a funding question out, as well,” Golden City Manager Scott Vargo said. 

The Golden question would fund the Golden Fire Department. 

“It’s been a volunteer department for almost 150 years, and over the course of the last half dozen or so years, we’ve transitioned to a combination department where we brought more career staff on as volunteer staffing became less available, less reliable [and] the needs within the community were growing,” Vargo said. 

The ballot question would raise property taxes $34 for every $100,000 of a home’s value. The median home price in Golden is $788,000, according to the Jefferson County assessor. That means this would increase by about $268 a year. 

“You're right on the money that there's a lot of concern and trepidation, both internally here with us, as well as in the community in general, around property tax,” Vargo said. 

The city sent a survey to residents this summer, after they had received their property tax bills. Part of the survey asked if residents would be supportive of a property tax increase. 

“We received favorable response. So, more than a majority were supportive of the tax,” Vargo said. “People had received their property tax materials, and all of that stuff by then. So that stuff was relatively fresh for them.” 

The higher property tax would bring in $4.675 million a year. 

It would allow the city to hire more full-time firefighters and pay nine existing positions with city money instead of grant money. 

“As those grant funds dry up, or as they expire, they're all limited duration, then we're back to we've got to fund those positions 100% out of our general fund,” Vargo said. 

What happens if voters keep their hands in their own wallets? 

“Yeah, if it doesn't pass, then we've got to go back and take a look at how we're going to fund fire going forward,” Vargo said. 

The election in Golden and Fort Collins is on Nov. 7.

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