First, among other things, TABOR restricts the annual amount of money state and local governments may raise and spend each year. The TABOR growth formula basically restricts local government growth by inflation, as measured in the Denver Metro area, along with a consideration of a "local growth factor." The problem for San Miguel County is that while Colorado has been growing, San Miguel County has been growing faster. In the most recent U.S. census, San Miguel County was rated the 18th fastest growing county on a percentage basis out of over 3,000 counties nationwide. During that ten-year census period our growth rate was over 80 percent or an annual average growth rate of over 8 percent per year. As one can imagine, that large growth creates increasing pressure on vital County services, such as law enforcement and road and bridge maintenance and construction. The obvious problem is that, under strict TABOR limitations, our County government growth would be restricted to about half of our historic local population growth of almost 8 percent per year. Simply put, TABOR's growth rate restrictions are not well suited for a growing and expanding community like ours.
There is another example of how rigid adherence to the TABOR limitations will actually punish the citizens of San Miguel County. San Miguel County has already received or is in the process of finalizing receipt of several State grants. One grant, which is funded from the State oil and gas severance tax, would provide the County with $1.5 million to replace obsolete and outdated road equipment. The other proposed State grant is for a new public safety communications system for almost $800,000. If our TABOR exemption does not pass, the County will exceed our TABOR limitations, and we will be prohibited from accepting these grant offers. If Ballot Question 1A fails, County voters will essentially be rejecting almost $2.3 million in State grants money we could just accept from the State, but for the TABOR revenue and spending limits that would directly benefit our local community.
Finally, the actual tax impacts to the citizens of San Miguel County from Ballot Question 1A are minor. Approval of Ballot Question 1A would amount to approximately an additional $37 for each $500,000 of actual value for a residential property owner.
As County Commissioners, we urge all citizens to Vote Yes on Referenda C and D. But please do not forget our local San Miguel County Ballot Question 1A, which will allow the County to keep pace with our local growth and to accept a number of State grants at minimal cost to the taxpayers of this County. Please vote "Yes" on Ballot Question 1A.