With the majority of the Adams County Board of Commissioners dedicated to imposing a stormwater “fee” on residents in unincorporated areas, residents filed suit this week to stop the illegal tax. Naming Adams County and the Board of County Commissioners, the suit alleges that the county’s imposition of the “fee” violates the Colorado Constitution’s TABOR Amendment.
The revenue generating scheme was ostensibly created so the county could meet EPA regulations, regulations which do not however require additional expenditures despite what the county claims. The county’s attempt to disguise a tax as a “fee” without giving citizens a vote on it is not only unjust, it is illegal.
The county’s new stormwater utility was ramrodded through by a previous board of commissioners. Newly elected commissioners Eva Henry and Chaz Tedesco have refused to properly address residents’ concerns, worked to silence the dissent, and now the county is going to end up in court.
County residents have flooded the commissioners with complaints and been very vocal in their opposition to the new regulations and tax. Citizens formed the Stop Stormwater Utility Association (SSUA) to act as a buttress against the unconstitutional taxes and that group filed suit after being stymied by the high and mighty in Brighton.
SSUA appears to have its ducks in a row and will be able to make a strong case in court to stop the new tax. A nearly identical case in Michigan met with great success and was able to prevent the unjust taxation of its residents.
By its own admission, Adams County purposely chose to have the “fee” added to residents’ property taxes because it wouldn’t be “highly noticeable”. The possibility a tax would affect commissioners’ electability in the future has also been revealed to have been a factor in their decision.
The mere fact it is tacked on to a tax statement highlights the real nature of the stormwater fee – it is a tax in and of itself. Further the clear attempt at deceit shows the disingenuous way in which the county has handled the issue in their attempt to feed their coffers at the expense of taxpayers, all while attempting to ensure their chances of being reelected weren’t damaged.
Interestingly enough, a look at the members of the Stormwater Advisory Committee (SWAC) that advised the commissioners in 2010 is replete with members of the corrupt Adams Family. We see names like Ken Ciancio, Christopher Frank, Bob Flemming and Dino Valente – all residents with ties to the county’s ethically challenged past and its leaders.
The county and all government entities are rightfully restrained from imposing new taxes on residents. Colorado voters have made it clear that we the people have a voice in the matter and will not allow the imposition of taxes without a say in the matter.
Adams County, the state of Colorado and other local governments have been using the “fee” scheme to evade TABOR in violation of the state constitution. This simply cannot stand.
You can view the press release from the Stop Stormwater Utility Association announcing the lawsuit and a copy of the complaint below. For more information, visit the SSUA website at: http://www.stopstormwaterutility.com
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