Centennial's city council, at its 13 August meeting, authorized a November ballot proposal allowing the city to "retain and spend excess revenues." TABOR, our Taxpayer's Bill of Rights in the Colorado constitution, permits a government to retain a limited amount the prior year's revenue increased by the inflation rate plus the percentage increase in real property valuation. Revenue collected above that threshold must be returned to the taxpayers. About 65% of Centennial's revenue is already exempt from that revenue cap. The remaining 35% is temporarily exempt as well. The exemption expires on 31 December 2013. The city's ballot measure would seek to make that expiring exemption permanent.
Several obvious paths should be considered before voters approve granting the city permanent exemption on all of its revenue.
* While continued economic recession still depresses the city's revenue, voters could approve another temporary waiver. Granted that elections are costly, but the city holds elections every other year anyway for city council members and every fourth year for mayor.
* If the amount to be returned is unreasonably small for the cost and effort needed, voters could allow the city to retain excess revenue until the return amount reached some practical, cost-effective figure.
* Rather than asking permission to retain excess, Centennial could lower its taxes and fees. Thus the city would not have the problem of excess revenue.
Lower taxes and fees would promote economic growth and jobs, thus increasing both the city's revenue and the people's well-being. Even the IRS refunds over-payments.