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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

Open Records and Personnel Files

20190628 JIC Blog

Most, if not all, government employees are aware of the general proposition of “open records.”  The general premise is that information related to the functions of government should be open to public inspection.  In Colorado, this general premise is codified in the Colorado Open Records Act, § 24-72-200.1, et seq., C.R.S. (“CORA”).  CORA applies to all local governments within Colorado including, but not limited to school districts and special districts.  At the beginning of CORA, the state General Assembly provides the following declaration on the intent of the law:

“It is declared to be the public policy of this state that all public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided in [CORA] or as otherwise specifically provided by law.”[1]

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What is the Gallagher Amendment?

Amendments

In 1982, Colorado voters passed the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution.  The Amendment got its name from Dennis Gallagher, the state legislator that proposed the action.  The primary concern of the Gallagher Amendment was to set a specific policy for determining actual value and assessed value of property in relation to the collection of property taxes within the State of Colorado. 

More specifically, the Gallagher Amendment set a fixed ratio for the amount of revenues collected through property tax and divided those revenues into two major categories: Non-residential and Residential.  Residential, as it suggests, is the property tax revenue generated from the ownership of homes.  Non-residential includes everything else, from commercial properties and farms, to oil and gas properties.  The Gallagher Amendment requires that Non-residential property tax revenues make up 55% of total property tax revenues, leaving Residential to account for the remaining 45%.  Significantly, the Gallagher Amendment also fixed the Non-residential Assessment Rate at 29% and requires the Residential Assessment Rate to fluctuate in order to maintain the 55%-45% ratio between the two sources of revenue.  The combination of the 55%-45% ratio and the floating Residential Assessment Rate has resulted in a consistent “ratcheting down” effect for the Residential Assessment Rate between 1982 and the present. 

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Serving The Entire State Of Colorado
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Longmont Office

515 Kimbark Street, Second Floor
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-776-9900 
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Louisville Office

363 Centennial Parkway, Suite 110
Louisville, CO 80027
Phone: 720-726-3670 
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Satellite Office

748 Whalers Way, Suite # 240A
Fort Collins, CO 80525
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