What is Gallagher? And why does it hurt communities like Eagle County? Well …

The Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution was passed by voters in 1982 and set the ratio of property taxes paid to local governments—such as counties, towns, school districts and fire districts—at 45 percent from residential properties and 55 percent from commercial properties (includes all non-residential properties, ie. vacant land, commercial, industrial, natural resources, agricultural, etc.). Gallagher also set the commercial assessment rate at 29 percent. To maintain this 45/55 ratio, the assessment rate for residential has to decline as residential becomes a larger part of all property in the state.

Residential assessment rate (RAR)

From 2003-2016, the state-imposed residential assessment rate (RAR) remained steady at 7.96 percent. However, due to the recent explosion of Front Range residential development, the Gallagher adjustments have happened in every reassessment period since 2016, with another decrease projected in 2021. This decline has reduced property taxes collected by local governments, particularly in mountain and rural communities where there is relatively less commercial development. In these areas, new residential development and property values do not keep pace with the decline in the statewide residential assessment rate.

Impact to Eagle County and Mountain Communities

The issues primarily caused by Front Range development are particularly felt on the Western Slope, especially in Eagle County where 89 percent of property is residential and only 11 percent is commercial — compared to 77 percent residential and 23 percent commercial statewide. This leads to local governments either reducing basic services to stay within tax collections or forcing school districts and fire districts to seek voter-approved tax increases to maintain or improve services.

Essential Eagle County Services Funded through Property Taxes:

General Fund:
● Sheriff’s Office
● Emergency Management
● District Attorney
● Clerk and Recorder
● Administration and Human Resources
● Road improvements
● Wildfire mitigation
● Economic development and resiliency

Public Health Fund:
● Emergency Management and Response
● Public Health, Disease Prevention and Emergency Preparedness
● Environmental Health

Road and Bridge Fund:
● Maintenance of existing roadways
● Snow removal

Open Space Fund:
● Maintenance of existing open space properties
● Acquisition of new properties

Human Services Fund:
● Early Childhood Services
● Public Assistance
● Early Head Start
● Veteran Services
● Employment First