COLORADO SUPREME COURT
May 21, 2018
2018 CO 36. No. 16SC377. Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation v. City of Aspen.
Taxation—Constitutional Law—Local Government Law.
The Supreme Court considered whether a $0.20 charge on paper bags is a tax subject to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). The Court held that if the primary purpose of a charge is to raise revenue for the general expenses of government, the charge is a tax. Conversely, the Court concluded that a charge is not a tax if the primary purpose of a charge is to defray the reasonable direct and indirect costs of providing a service or regulating an activity, because such a charge does not raise revenue for the general expense of government.
After analyzing the charge in this case, the Court held that this charge is not a tax. Aspen imposed this charge as part of a regulatory program aimed at waste management, and the $0.20 charge for the right to use a paper bag bears a reasonable relationship to Aspen’s cost of permitting that use. Because this charge is a not a tax, it is exempt from TABOR’s requirements.
The Court of Appeals’ judgment was affirmed.
2018 CO 37. No. 16SC851. City and County of Denver v. Dennis ex. rel. Heyboer. Colorado Governmental Immunity Act—Sovereign Immunity.
The Supreme Court considered whether the City and County of Denver waived its immunity under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). After a motorcycle accident, plaintiff sued the City and County of Denver, and alleged that Denver had waived its immunity under the CGIA because the road on which plaintiff was traveling constituted a dangerous condition that physically interfered with the movement of traffic. To prove a dangerous condition, a plaintiff must prove four elements, one of which is that the road constituted an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public.
The Court defined “unreasonable risk” in this context as a road condition that creates a chance of injury, damage, or loss that exceeds the bounds of reason. This determination will be fact specific, and in this case, the road did not create an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public. Nor did the condition of the road physically interfere with the movement of traffic.
The Court of Appeals’ judgment was reversed.