Our View: Tax should go to voters
Moffat County commissioners were right to let voters decide on a property tax to support Horizons Specialized Services.
Last week, commissioners voted to put the proposed 1-mill property tax on the November ballot. It wasn’t an endorsement of the tax itself. “We just gave permission for it to be on the ballot, that’s all,” Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.
We agree with that philosophy. Putting the issue on the ballot gives Horizons the opportunity to try to convince taxpayers the tax is worth the cost.
Horizons provides services including day care, housing, job training and transportation to people with developmental disabilities in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties. But of those five counties, about half of the agency’s workload — 40 adults and 30 children — is in Moffat County.
The tax would cost residents about $8 per $100,000 of home value. It would cost businesses about $29 per $100,000 of commercial value.
If voters approve the measure, Horizon’s $3 million annual operating budget would increase by about $300,000. Currently, Moffat County contributes $16,000 to Horizons.
Horizons also is seeking a 1-mill property tax in Routt County. Commissioners there have not decided whether to put that tax on the ballot, but we would urge them to do so.
Horizons is seeking the additional funding because it has more clients than it can serve with its current resources. The group has 14 people on its waiting list, six of whom need services immediately. That may not seem like a lot, until you realize that the waiting time for services is painfully long — seven to 14 years on average. And there is no other agency In Northwest Colorado that provides the services Horizons does.
“We don’t want to make children and families wait for services,” Horizons Director Susan Mizen said.
Horizons performs a noble mission. The agency greatly enhances the quality of life that individuals with developmental disabilities enjoy in Northwest Colorado. Perhaps as importantly, the organization gives well-deserved assistance and peace of mind to those individuals’ families.
That’s not to say we’re sold on the property tax. We need to see more details about how the property tax dollars would be used in Moffat County before endorsing — or rejecting — the tax. But given its past work, Horizons has at least earned the right to make its case to taxpayers, and we’re glad to see the proposal on the ballot.
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