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  County Treasurers and
Public Trustees

COLORADO STATE CONSTITUTION

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ARTICLE IX EDUCATION

Section 4. County treasurer to collect and disburse.

Each county treasurer shall collect all school funds belonging to his county, and the several school districts therein, and disburse the same to the proper districts upon warrants drawn by the county superintendent, or by the proper district authorities, as may be provided by law.

ARTICLE X REVENUE

Section 3. Uniform taxation - exemptions.

(1) (a) Each property tax levy shall be uniform upon all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article located within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax. The actual value of all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article shall be determined under general laws, which shall prescribe such methods and regulations as shall secure just and equalized valuations for assessments of all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article. Valuations for assessment shall be based on appraisals by assessing officers to determine the actual value of property in accordance with provisions of law, which laws shall provide that actual value be determined by appropriate consideration of cost approach, market approach, and income approach to appraisal. However, the actual value of residential real property shall be determined solely by consideration of cost approach and market approach to appraisal; and, however, the actual value of agricultural lands, as defined by law, shall be determined solely by consideration of the earning or productive capacity of such lands capitalized at a rate as prescribed by law.

            (b) Residential real property, which shall include all residential dwelling units and the land, as defined by law, on which such units are located, and mobile home parks, but shall not include hotels and motels, shall be valued for assessment at twenty-one percent of its actual value. For the property tax year commencing January 1, 1985, the general assembly shall determine the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to residential real property. For each subsequent year, the general assembly shall again determine the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to each class of taxable property, after adding in the increased valuation for assessment attributable to new construction and to increased volume of mineral and oil and gas production. For each year in which there is a change in the level of value used in determining actual value, the general assembly shall adjust the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential real property which is set forth in this paragraph (b) as is necessary to insure that the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to residential real property shall remain the same as it was in the year immediately preceding the year in which such change occurs. Such adjusted ratio shall be the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential real property for those years for which such new level of value is used. In determining the adjustment to be made in the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential real property, the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment that is attributable to residential real property shall be calculated as if the full actual value of all owner-occupied primary residences that are partially exempt from taxation pursuant to section 3.5 of this article was subject to taxation. All other taxable property shall be valued for assessment at twenty-nine percent of its actual value. However, the valuation for assessment for producing mines, as defined by law, and lands or leaseholds producing oil or gas, as defined by law, shall be a portion of the actual annual or actual average annual production therefrom, based upon the value of the unprocessed material, according to procedures prescribed by law for different types of minerals. Non-producing unpatented mining claims, which are possessory interests in real property by virtue of leases from the United States of America, shall be exempt from property taxation.

            (c) The following classes of personal property, as defined by law, shall be exempt from property taxation: Household furnishings and personal effects which are not used for the production of income at any time; inventories of merchandise and materials and supplies which are held for consumption by a business or are held primarily for sale; livestock; agricultural and livestock products; and agricultural equipment which is used on the farm or ranch in the production of agricultural products.

            (d) Ditches, canals, and flumes owned and used by individuals or corporations for irrigating land owned by such individuals or corporations, or the individual members thereof, shall not be separately taxed so long as they shall be owned and used exclusively for such purposes.

            (2) (a) During each property tax year beginning with the property tax year which commences January 1, 1983, the general assembly shall cause a valuation for assessment study to be conducted. Such study shall determine whether or not the assessor of each county has complied with the property tax provisions of this constitution and of the statutes in valuing property and has determined the actual value and valuation for assessment of each and every class of taxable real and personal property consistent with such provisions. Such study shall sample at least one percent of each and every class of taxable real and personal property in the county.

            (b) (I) If the study conducted during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1983, shows that a county assessor did not comply with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes or did not determine the actual value or the valuation for assessment of any class or classes of taxable real and personal property consistent with such provisions, the state board of equalization shall, during such year, order such county assessor to reappraise during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1984, such class or classes for such year. Such reappraisal shall be performed at the expense of the county.

            (II) If the study performed during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1984, shows that the county assessor failed to reappraise such class or classes as ordered or failed in his reappraisal to meet the objections of the state board of equalization, the state board of equalization shall cause a reappraisal of such class or classes to be performed in the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985. The cost of such reappraisal shall be paid by the state by an appropriation authorized by law. However, if such reappraisal shows that the county assessor did not value or assess taxable property as prescribed by the provisions of this constitution or of the statutes, upon certification to the board of county commissioners by the state board of equalization of the cost thereof, the board of county commissioners shall pay to the state the cost of such reappraisal.

            (III) The reappraisal performed in the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985, shall become the county's abstract for assessment with regard to such reappraised class or classes for such year. The state board of equalization shall order the county's board of county commissioners to levy, and the board of county commissioners shall levy, in 1985 an additional property tax on all taxable property in the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for any excess payment made by the state to school districts within the county during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985.

            (c) (I) Beginning with the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985, and applicable to each property tax year thereafter, the annual study conducted pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) shall, in addition to the requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), set forth the aggregate valuation for assessment of each county for the year in which the study is conducted.

            (II) If the valuation for assessment of a county as reflected in its abstract for assessment is more than five percent below the valuation for assessment for such county as determined by the study, during the next following year, the state board of equalization shall cause to be performed, at the expense of the county, a reappraisal of any class or classes of taxable property which the study shows were not appraised consistent with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes. The state board of equalization shall cause to be performed during the next following year, at the expense of the county, a reappraisal of any class or classes of taxable property which the study shows were not appraised consistent with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes even though the county's aggregate valuation for assessment as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment was not more than five percent below the county's aggregate valuation for assessment as determined by the study. The reappraisal shall become the county's valuation for assessment with regard to such reappraised class or classes for the year in which the reappraisal was performed.

            (III) In any case in which a reappraisal is ordered, state equalization payments to school districts within the county during the year in which the reappraisal is performed shall be based upon the valuation for assessment as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment. The state board of equalization shall also order the board of county commissioners of the county to impose, and the board of county commissioners shall impose, at the time of imposition of property taxes during such year an additional property tax on all taxable property within the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for any excess payments made by the state to school districts within the county during the year in which such reappraisal was performed plus interest thereon at a rate and for such time as are prescribed by law.

            (IV) If the valuation for assessment of a county as reflected in its abstract for assessment is more than five percent below the valuation for assessment for such county as determined by the study and if the state board of equalization fails to order a reappraisal, state equalization payments to school districts within the county during the year following the year in which the study was conducted shall be based upon the valuation for assessment for the county as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment. The board of county commissioners of such county shall impose in the year in which such school payments are made an additional property tax on all taxable property in the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for the difference between the amount the state actually paid in state equalization payments during such year and what the state would have paid during such year had such state payments been based on the valuation for assessment as determined by the study.

Section 3.5. Homestead exemption for qualifying senior citizens.

(1) For property tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2002, fifty percent of the first two hundred thousand dollars of actual value of residential real property, as defined by law, that, as of the assessment date, is owner-occupied and is used as the primary residence of the owner-occupier shall be exempt from property taxation if:

            (a) The owner-occupier is sixty-five years of age or older as of the assessment date and has owned and occupied such residential real property as his or her primary residence for the ten years immediately preceding the assessment date; or

            (b) The owner-occupier is the spouse or surviving spouse of an owner-occupier who previously qualified for a property tax exemption for the same residential real property under paragraph (a) of this subsection (1).

            (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, section 20 of this article, or any other constitutional provision, for any property tax year commencing on or after January 1, 2003, the general assembly may raise or lower by law the maximum amount of actual value of residential real property of which fifty percent shall be exempt under subsection (1) of this section.

            (3) For any property tax year commencing on or after January 1, 2002, the general assembly shall compensate each local governmental entity that receives property tax revenues for the net amount of property tax revenues lost as a result of the property tax exemption provided for in this section. For purposes of section 20 of article X of this constitution, such compensation shall not be included in local government fiscal year spending and approval of this section by the voters statewide shall constitute a voter-approved revenue change to allow the maximum amount of state fiscal year spending for the 2001-02 state fiscal year to be increased by forty-four million one hundred twenty-three thousand six hundred four dollars and to include said amount in state fiscal year spending for said state fiscal year for the purpose of calculating subsequent state fiscal year spending limits. Payments made from the state general fund to compensate local governmental entities for property tax revenues lost as a result of the property tax exemption provided for in this section shall not be subject to any statutory limitation on general fund appropriations because the enactment of this section by the people of Colorado constitutes voter approval of a weakening of any such limitation.

Section 4. Public property exempt.

The property, real and personal, of the state, counties, cities, towns and other municipal corporations and public libraries, shall be exempt from taxation.

Section 5. Property used for religious worship, schools and charitable purposes exempt.

Property, real and personal, that is used solely and exclusively for religious worship, for schools or for strictly charitable purposes, also cemeteries not used or held for private or corporate profit, shall be exempt from taxation, unless otherwise provided by general law.

Section 6. Self-propelled equipment, motor vehicles, and certain other movable equipment.

The general assembly shall enact laws classifying motor vehicles and also wheeled trailers, semi-trailers, trailer coaches, and mobile and self-propelled construction equipment, prescribing methods of determining the taxable value of such property, and requiring payment of a graduated annual specific ownership tax thereon, which tax shall be in lieu of all ad valorem taxes upon such property; except that such laws shall not exempt from ad valorem taxation any such property in process of manufacture or held in storage, or which constitutes the inventory of manufacturers or distributors thereof or dealers therein; and further except that the general assembly shall provide by law for the taxation of mobile homes.

Such graduated annual specific ownership tax shall be in addition to any state registration or license fees imposed on such property, shall be payable to a designated county officer at the same time as any such registration or license fees are payable, and shall be apportioned, distributed, and paid over to the political subdivisions of the state in such manner as may be prescribed by law.

            All laws exempting from taxation property other than that specified in this article shall be void.

ARTICLE XII OFFICERS

Section 5. Investigation of state and county treasurers.

The district court of each county shall, at each term thereof, specially give in charge to the grand jury, if there be one, the laws regulating the accountability of the county treasurer, and shall appoint a committee of such grand jury, or of other reputable persons not exceeding five, to investigate the official accounts and affairs of the treasurer of such county, and report to the court the condition thereof. The judge of the district court may appoint a like committee in vacation at any time, but not oftener than once in every three months. The district court of the county wherein the seat of government may be shall have the like power to appoint committees to investigate the official accounts and affairs of the state treasurer and the auditor of state.

ARTICLE XIV COUNTIES

Section 8. County officers - election - term - salary.

There shall be elected in each county, at the same time at which members of the general assembly are elected, commencing in the year nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and every four years thereafter, one county clerk, who shall be ex officio recorder of deeds and clerk of the board of county commissioners; one sheriff; one coroner; one treasurer who shall be collector of taxes; one county surveyor; one county assessor; and one county attorney who may be elected or appointed, as shall be provided by law; and such officers shall be paid such salary or compensation, either from the fees, perquisites and emoluments of their respective offices, or from the general county fund, as may be provided by law. The term of office of all such officials shall be four years, and they shall take office on the second Tuesday in January next following their election, or at such other time as may be provided by law.

Section 9. Vacancies - how filled.

In case of a vacancy occurring in the office of county commissioner a vacancy committee of the same political party as the vacating commissioner constituted as provided by law shall, by a majority vote, fill the vacancy by appointment within ten days after occurrence of the vacancy. If the vacancy committee fails to fill the vacancy within ten days after occurrence of the vacancy, the governor shall fill the same by appointment within fifteen days after occurrence of the vacancy. The person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of county commissioner shall be a member of the same political party, if any, as the vacating commissioner. In case of a vacancy in any other county office, or in any precinct office, the board of county commissioners shall fill the same by appointment. Any person appointed pursuant to this section shall hold the office until the next general election, or until the vacancy is filled by election according to law.

Section 10. Elector only eligible to county office.

No person shall be eligible to any county office unless he shall be a qualified elector; nor unless he shall have resided in the county one year preceding his election. 

Section 15. Compensation and fees of county officers.

The general assembly shall fix the compensation of county officers in this state by law, and shall establish scales of fees to be charged and collected by such county officers. All such fees shall be paid into the county general fund.

            When fixing the compensation of county officers, the general assembly shall give due consideration to county variations, including population; the number of persons residing in unincorporated areas; assessed valuation; motor vehicle registrations; building permits; military installations; and such other factors as may be necessary to prepare compensation schedules that reflect variations in the workloads and responsibilities of county officers and in the tax resources of the several counties.

            The compensation of any county officer shall be increased or decreased only when the compensation of all county officers within the same county, or when the compensation for the same county officer within the several counties of the state, is increased or decreased.

            County officers shall not have their compensation increased or decreased during the terms of office to which they have been elected or appointed.

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