Municipalities Matter

Municipalities Matter

Municipalities Matter

Municipalities Matter: Particularly with Ballot Measures This Year

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Municipalities Matter

Particularly with Ballot Measures This Year

No PetitionsLots of folks are focused on the end of the month primaries across the state. While those are surely important, CML has been monitoring a number of statewide ballot measures having potential impacts upon cities and towns.  

Proponents circulating a change to the Colorado Constitution need a minimum of 2 percent registered elector signatures from all 35 state senate districts equaling a minimum of 98,492 registered elector signatures statewide. Those initiating a change to a state law rather than the constitution also need a minimum of 98,492 registered elector signatures; however, the signatures are not required to be gathered statewide. In the case of many proposals, paid circulators are being used. These paid circulators generally have little clue what the details of a measure really are, and will hit you up with a catchphrase such as: “Sign here to protect your property rights.” As I have learned over many years, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. “Decline to sign” is generally my mantra this election season.

The following brief summaries outline some what CML is monitoring.

Transportation Funding 

Two competing measures are circulating on transportation funding. 

One proposes a $3.5 billion bond issue for certain specified Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)-only projects. The payback on the bonds would presumably come from “reprioritizing” the state’s general fund. This is going to be a nasty fight once folks realize the cuts that must occur to generate the revenue to pay off these bonds. It is an “I can get it for you wholesale” approach to addressing a serious problem. And there is no shared revenue for cities, towns, and counties. 

The other measure proposes a state sales tax rate increase for CDOT projects, a municipal-county share back through the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF) formula, and funding for multimodal projects. We supported a similar measure in the General Assembly in 2017, and will be taking a close look at this one. How this impacts municipal sales tax reliance is a key matter for the League; however, I feel it is pointed in the right direction.  

I want to commend the legislature for its work this past session in starting to address comprehensive transportation funding for state and municipal needs. Kudos to all the lawmakers involved on both sides of the aisle. 

Oil and Gas 

Certain sectors of the oil and gas industry are proposing two measures and are actively circulating one of them now - they are both disingenuous and deceptive. There will be others speaking in support of these, but make no mistake about it, certain oil and gas companies are dumping big cash into these efforts, and they will come at the expense of your taxpayers.  

The first measure would totally preempt state and local government oil and gas regulations. There is a challenge to this measure pending before the Colorado Supreme Court, and the League is helping to pay for the costs of the challenge. This measure is being sold as a constitutional protection of local control. Trust me, it is anything but that! 

The second measure, actively being circulated by the industry through a group called “Protect Colorado” would amend the state constitution’s clause dealing with property rights by adding the words “fair market value.” Any government regulation affecting the “fair market value” of private property would be halted and the property owner compensated. This one is as bad an amendment to the constitution as TABOR was in 1992. And, much like TABOR, I know what it says, but I surely do not know what it means. 

Both of these measures would be changes to the Colorado Constitution. 

A group of citizens organized through “Colorado Rising” also is circulating a change to state law to establish a 2,500-foot setback. This would preempt existing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between operators and producers. However passionate the proponents may be in their antipathy towards the oil and gas industry, this measure, with the greatest of respect, falls far short of the mark and will create numerous unanticipated problems. It is drawing the ire of extreme elements of the industry and has generated the anti-local government stealth attacks described in the measures above. It is a dangerous game of chicken, and I wish they would all go away. 

There also is an initiated statute proposing to increase certain severance taxes. This may not be the right vehicle, but a review of the severance taxation structure in this state is long overdue, especially as it relates to the ad valorem property tax credit. But that is a discussion for another day. 

Housing Growth Caps

Another measure would impose a growth cap via the number of building permits that can be issued annually, and cover a large portion of counties and municipalities along the Front Range. It is proposed as a change in state law and establishes some troubling preemption of home rule authority, as well as appearing to grant counties some explicit authority over municipal land use policy. If you believe in home rule, affordable housing, and good land use planning at the municipal level, then this one is not your cup of tea. 

Education Funding 

Proponents for greater funding for the state’s school finance act are circulating a constitutional change that establishes a graduated income tax, raises certain corporate taxes, earmarks this revenue to the school finance act, and freezes the Gallagher residential ratio only for schools. It is this last point that is of particular and direct municipal interest. This freeze does not cover cities, towns, special districts, or counties and likely exacerbates the issues around Gallagher for local governments other than school districts. Frankly, I am pretty troubled by the fact that the education establishment did not engage the local government family in a broader discussion of Gallagher. It does not address that issue in a comprehensive manner and, for that reason alone, I am pretty upset with the proposal. 

Sanctuary Cities 

There may be a measure being circulated affecting local governments and their local law enforcement policies relative to immigration enforcement, with sanctions placed upon those that have certain policies. With the greatest of respect, I still do not know what a “sanctuary city” is as a matter of law, and am confused as to which cities and towns in Colorado qualify as such. I am skeptical of this one for that reason.  

In Conclusion

These measures must be submitted by 3 p.m. on Aug. 6 to the Colorado Secretary of State (except for the severance tax alteration, which must be submitted by July 7). 

My problem with the statewide initiative process is that the effects on interests of cities and towns are far more negative than positive, and we are not always in control of our destiny. The devil is so very much in the details. 

If you do not like signing blank checks, I would be wary of most of these - so think before you ink. Encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. 

I would love to hear how you feel.

Municipalities Matter - Especially During Infrastructure Week

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Municipalities Matter

Especially During Infrastructure Week

Infrastructure FlorenceEveryone in government seems to be having week-long celebrations recently: Public Service Week, Economic Development Week, Municipal Clerks Week… The League’s lobbyists are celebrating sine die week for the rest of 2017, since the General Assembly does not go back into session until next January! 

I want to mention a week’s celebration happening right now: Infrastructure Week. 

The group championing it in Washington is Building America’s Future (BAF). Marcia Hale is its CEO; she served as head of intergovernmental affairs for President Bill Clinton when I first knew her, and she has spoken to CML many times when we have been in DC. One year, we were able to get former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is a co-chair of BAF, to address our municipal leaders. He is one of the nicest and most thoughtful guys you will ever meet in public service, and he gave quite a knock-out speech. I remember him saying that as far as infrastructure is concerned, “America is one giant pot hole, and we need to fix the problem.” 

This just-adjourned legislative session did fund a useful down payment to address transportation needs. The legislation also recognizes that this money should be shared with cities, towns, and counties through the Highway Users Tax Fund formula ($48 million for municipalities over the next two years), and there will be additional funding for transit and other multimodal projects. This will be coordinated through the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Kudos to the General Assembly for crafting this bipartisan approach. 

You may see some ballot measures this November further addressing infrastructure. One will raise the state sales tax by some amount yet to be determined. This revenue would be split with local governments and transit. Another proposal would float around $2.5 billion in bonds for CDOT-only projects. We will have more to say about each of these proposals over the weeks ahead should they secure placement on the statewide ballot. 

During the session, the General Assembly - also in a bipartisan manner - generated additional revenue for our ongoing broadband build-out efforts around Colorado, largely due to the leadership of municipal and county leaders and strong support from Gov. John Hickenlooper. We thank our partners at the statehouse most sincerely. 

President Donald Trump earlier this year rolled out his national infrastructure plan. It is around $1.3 trillion, and addresses a variety of initiatives. The “pay-for” is the tricky part, since a major portion of its funding will fall back upon the shoulders of the states and local governments. His plan, while certainly comprehensive, does not seem to be gaining much traction on Capitol Hill. It places a fair amount of emphasis on public-private partnerships, known among government types as P3s. We have used this model for the successful managed lane project along the Boulder Turnpike, as an example. The question always arises as to how well they could work with smaller projects, especially in rural areas of the state. 

A major unanswered question is how to fund and implement many elements of Gov. Hickenlooper’s most thoughtful and comprehensive state water plan. This two-year-old document was written by the Colorado Water Conservation Board with input from hundreds of groups and individuals, including the League and dozens and dozens of municipal officials. I currently am honored to be part of an informal group looking at how to develop a funding proposal for the plan. It is far too soon to predict what we will come up with. I do think water has been left out of the infrastructure equation in our state. It is Colorado’s lifeblood. It is our obligation as good citizens and stewards to protect and preserve this precious “liquid gold,” especially as a major headwater state. It is an issue that touches the interests of municipalities, agriculture, business, environmentalists, and individuals on a daily basis. To sum up my feelings on water, I find myself inspired by an op ed-piece in the Glenwood Post-Independent written by some business owners in Carbondale - I could not agree more with their sentiments. Water funding and addressing this via the governor’s state water plan has to be a high priority. 

So during this week, reflect upon the challenges we face , and the opportunities that may arise, in the infrastructure policy arena. I would love to hear from you as to how you are addressing all of this in your own community.

Municipalities Matter: Promises

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Municipalities Matter

Promises

 

PromisesThere is a very interesting story in The Denver Post about the E-470 Public Highway Authority phasing out a special motor vehicle fee to help build out the road. The road improvements have been completed and the fee no longer needed, so the authority’s board, composed of local elected officials from the jurisdictions covered, voted to eliminate the fee. John Aguilar, the reporter who wrote the story, always does a great job covering interesting local government items, and this story was no exception. 

His story got me to thinking, "How many other local governments have done this sort of thing?" Well, I received some interesting responses from a recent posting on our municipal managers listserv:

 

  • Lamar ended a quarter-cent sales tax after public improvements to the downtown city library were completed. 
  • Ridgway ended a property tax-based general improvement district when the public improvements were finished. 
  • Limon swapped out fire service delivery from the Town to a fire protection district and ended the property tax the Town previously levied for such service. There are similar examples of this, such as in Evans a few years back. 
  • Snowmass Village let a property tax expire for open space once a major parcel was acquired and the tax no longer needed. 
  • Steamboat Springs let a quarter-cent sales expire two years ago that was levied as an airline subsidy. 
  • Fraser eliminated its property tax altogether after the Town paid off all of its debt. Very impressive indeed, I would say.

 

What does all this mean? At the municipal government level, we make and keep promises. When we approach voters for support to fund a specific public improvement or enhancement, there is an understanding that the “ask” will be fulfilled. And when it is completed, and the tax or fee is no longer needed, it will be gone. 

Promises made, promises kept. Isn’t that how trust is earned? 

On citizen survey after citizen survey, trust in our level of government is so high. Any wonder? 

 I’m interested in hearing from you on how you have worked to earn trust in your community. Let me know. It’s why Municipalities Matter!

Municipalities Matter: Engaging Youth

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Municipalities Matter

Engaging Youth

Brush SchoolsThe family of local government (cities and towns, counties, school districts and special districts) provides essential programs and services to residents all across Colorado that impact our everyday lives. They also serve as a model for students to learn effective citizenship. 

Connecting young people with local leaders and local issues provides a focus on services and issues rather than personalities and politics. These characteristics make local government ripe for teaching effective citizenship skills. The list of local issues is sure to spark interest among students - parks and recreation, homelessness, recycling and sustainable practices, curfew laws, police relations, bike lanes, water quality, animal control, etc. Almost any aspect of daily life is touched by local government. 

More than 120 municipal elections took place statewide recently, with voters making numerous important decisions. In addition to electing city council and town board members to represent them, voters decided on tax increases, broadband, marijuana, and more. 

Teachers and parents should talk to young people about the importance of these elections and why it is essential to be engaged in the electoral process and know what is going on in their communities. A quick visit to any city or town website can reveal numerous opportunities for involvement, as well as the latest news or community event. 

Find a way to “make government real” by having students interact with leaders, teaching them that these are real people who live down the street or are their best friend’s aunt. Often students are surprised to learn that many municipal leaders are volunteers or are minimally compensated – they are true public servants. 

They also discover local government offers a vast array of career opportunities such as first responders, engineers who build and operate a city water system, teachers, librarians, attorneys, managers, museum curators, and so many others. 

There are numerous examples of Colorado students spreading their citizenship wings and being empowered by their involvement with local government:  

  • Girl Scouts in Aurora recently orchestrated a new ordinance banning smoking in cars if someone under 18 is present. This effort was even featured on CBS News. 
  • Students in Boulder worked with municipal officials to create a safer, more attractive street corridor near their school. 
  • High school students in Longmont published letters to the editor calling for greater sustainable environmental practices. 
  • Elementary students in Denver researched and proposed a one-to-one technology program for their schools. 
  • Berthoud High students organized a suicide prevention program.  
  • High school students across the state monitor water quality and watershed health, and use the data to educate fellow citizens and inform decision-makers about the condition of Colorado’s water.   

These students are practicing the civic mission of schools, and you cannot measure that with some standardized test. 

Lessons on Local Government is a joint venture between CML and the Special Districts Association of Colorado to bring civics to life in the classroom. It is a small way to help our young people explore the world of local government and become informed and active citizens. If you have not been in a classroom lately to speak with students, please do so. This website and a related video can give you all sorts of tips. Be a resource to a local social studies/civics teacher in your own school district. Finally, sponsor a local government day in your town or city. 

Let me know about any programs you have established locally. I would love to hear from you!

 

Municipalities Matter: All Politics Remain Local(1)

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Municipalities Matter

All Politics Remain Local

On April 3, folks across the state will be voting for questions, candidates, or both in at least 120 cities and towns. 

I have made it a career to examine municipal elections; it is where true representative democracy exists. The elections are nonpartisan, issue-driven, and focused on solving problems. Yes, there can be divisions, and my experience is that they eventually disappear once folks settle in and focus on the one item that matters – ensuring a vibrant quality of life. 

We will have a variety of issues facing municipal voters: broadband, marijuana (taxation and sales), term limits, tax and bond issues, legal publication requirements, and a host of other things

I predict that most of these questions will pass, and this is because of the consistent high trust level in municipal government. Poll after poll bears this out. 

More than 1,800 men and women serve as municipal elected leaders in the Centennial State. We call them mayors, councilmembers, trustees, and, in the case of Georgetown, aldermen and police judge! To those running for the first time - and to those trying to get re-elected - good luck. Remember, on April 4, the election is over and the hard part - governing- begins. 

Public service is the highest calling, and I want to thank some long-serving elected leaders who will not be running again: Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz, Granby Trustee Greg Mordini, New Castle Councilmember Greg Russi, Westcliffe Mayor Christy Patterson, Fowler Mayor Chuck Hitchcock, Kersey Mayor Bob Kellerhuis, Orchard City Trustee Tom Huerkamp, Gypsum Councilmember Dick Mayne, Carbondale Trustee Frosty Merriott, Severance Trustee Mike Kinney, Aguilar Mayor Pro Tem Leland Gulley, Morrison Trustee Allen Williams, and Lone Tree Mayor Pro Tem Susan Squyer. I know many of these folks personally, and very much have appreciated their work and dedication.

Municipalities Matter - Especially Initiatives

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Municipalities Matter

Especially Initiatives

 

While political pundits have their focus on candidates for office now, of equal importance are proposed statewide ballot initiatives with municipal impacts. Following are personal opinions on a few of these, reflecting my views based on extensive experience with ballot initiatives. And let the record reflect: I do not - do not - favor the initiative process. Never have, and never will. I believe in representative democracy; the initiative process is its antithesis. 

No PetitionsBackground 

Citizens, as well as the legislature, have the right to propose changes to state statute and to the Colorado Constitution through the initiative and referendum process. It is a state constitutional right and has been since the early 1900s. At least half of the states (mostly in the West) have this process. 

All citizen-initiated measures must go through a vetting process, which includes a substantive policy/legal review, fiscal analysis, and writing a summary and title - all of which are subject to legal challenge before the Colorado Supreme Court. One such challenge, but certainly not the only one, is whether a measure violates the “single subject” rule. This governs the scope of a measure to ensure it covers only the topic at hand and does not “log-roll” other topics into the proposal. 

An initiated statutory change requires 98,492 registered elector signatures (5 percent of the number of all votes cast for secretary of state in the last election). An initiated constitutional amendment requires a requisite number of 2 percent of the registered electors in all 35 state senate districts, and can only be approved with a minimum of 55 percent of the votes cast. Right now, portions of this new signature requirement are being challenged in federal court. 

If the legislature wants to refer a change to the constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber (24 in the Senate and 44 in the House). Referred statutes require a simple majority of votes (18 in the Senate and 33 in the House). 

Proponents of initiated measures have until early April to go through the vetting process and, unless otherwise noted, until early August for signatures to be submitted to the office of Secretary of State Wayne Williams for verification. 

General Assembly Proposals
It is too early to predict what the legislature might put forward. However, one measure that the League is endorsing is a measure to “de-Bruce” severance taxes. This will protect things such as the Energy Impact Fund, water funding, and parts of the budget for the Department of Natural Resources. 

There has been talk about changing the Gallagher Amendment this session. This would be a constitutional amendment to address the residential ratio decline that is severely affecting local governments, especially in rural areas and including municipalities, heavily dependent upon property taxes as their prime revenue source. We have got to tackle this issue; however, the political hurdles are daunting. 

Citizen Proposals

Here are some proposals with municipal implications: 

  • Disposition of government fines – This proposed state law would require, starting this year, that all state and local government fines, fees, and surcharges would be directed first “in restitution to an actual victim” or “to a registered and legitimate charity” of the victim’s choice. Proponents have until March 28 to submit their signatures (98,492) and have them verified by the Secretary of State’s Office for submission onto the ballot. This is a terrible idea because of the fiscal impacts on cities and towns. It also is poorly written – it is not even entirely clear who is a victim in the language. 
  • Transportation funding – Two competing statutory measures are surfacing. One would raise the state sales tax rate for the Colorado Department of Transportation, county, and municipal needs, including transit. It will be similar to legislation supported by CML last legislative session. Another proposal authorizes raising $3.5 billion in revenue bonds from “reallocating priorities” in the existing state budget. The League has been heavily involved in the crafting of a meaningful funding solution. I don’t know where this is all going to wind up. 
  • Takings – This would require just compensation for any state or local government regulation that has the effect to “reduce the fair market value of property for uses allowable at the time the owner acquired title.” This is a constitutional amendment, and it is plain awful. I put this in the category of TABOR - I know what it says, but I don’t know what it means. 
  • Oil and gas setbacks – This statutory measure would require that new oil and gas development not on federal land be located at least 2,500 feet from an “occupied structure or vulnerable area.” There are some local government requirements embedded in the proposal. I think there are some serious local control preemptions we need to be careful about here. 
  • Severance taxes – This state law would alter the oil and gas severance tax by eliminating the ad valorem property tax credit and by reducing exemptions for certain types of wells. It also would change the distribution of existing revenues to some new state-administered accounts directed to K-12 and to medical care for people suffering “negative health impacts” from oil and gas production. I have felt for a long time that we ought to have a serious discussion about our severance tax rates, especially the ad valorem tax offset; however, in this proposal, I am seriously concerned about the fiscal impacts upon the Department of Local Affairs, Department of Natural Resources, and our direct distribution formula. All of that needs further and serious examination. 
  • Growth caps – This change to state law would impose residential housing limits on Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties, and the municipalities within those counties. There is a single subject challenge pending before the Colorado Supreme Court. Taking a whack at growth in this sloppy manner is fraught with peril - Ugh! 

The CML Executive Board will consider positions on these when and if they certify. 

For now, if you are approached to sign a petition, just remember this. Do you like to sign blank checks? 

Think before you ink! As I was once told by a former governor, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Municipalities Matter: The State of Our Cities & Towns

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Municipalities Matter

A New Vision for CML

Co-written by Executive Director Sam Mamet and Legislative & Policy Advocate Meghan Dollar

 

Each year about this time, CML releases our State of Our Cities & Towns report, and this year we focus on public safety. Key takeaways include:  

 

  • Police and fire agencies are providing services with even greater efficiencies, most notably through numerous cost-sharing arrangements. 
  • Fire departments are focused more than ever on wildfire threats and mitigation. 
  • Fire mergers are becoming more evident. 
  • New technology, especially body cameras, continues to change policing. 

 

These trends appear to be as relevant in large agencies as they are in smaller departments across the state. There does not seem to be any urban-rural divide. 

One area in particular that jumps out at me is police recruitment. 

A majority of cities and towns in Colorado are experiencing challenges in recruiting new officers. Seven out of 10 Colorado police departments report recruitment challenges, and in the larger cities that figure rises to 93 percent. Why? 

The statewide survey conducted in 2017 found that in small- and mid-sized towns, the challenges are rural location and inadequate pay; larger cities face the issues of current public perceptions of police and the demands of shift work. 

The survey clearly revealed that public perceptions are often at odds with the important work police officers perform every day to keep our communities safe. Different approaches to policing may help bridge that gap. Police departments across the state are accelerating the implementation of programs that better connect police officers with the community. Dedicated community policing programs have been adopted or are planned by three-quarters of police departments in the state. Community policing programs foster cooperation among police, residents, and businesses. 

Sergeant Jim Creasy serves on Grand Junction’s Community Resource Unit, which works closely with businesses and residents in the downtown area. The local Downtown Development Authority helps fund the unit that combines school resource officers, neighborhood watch, and crime prevention through environmental design, homeless outreach, and dedicated patrol officers. One of the major accomplishments of the unit, according to Officer Creasy, is the personal contacts that result in “the public feeling comfortable coming to us.” The results in Grand Junction are impressive: the program has reduced police calls in the downtown area by 59 percent. 

It is important that people understand what is actually happening during police interactions with the public, and a new tool - body cameras - provides some insight. The CML survey shows that half of Colorado’s police departments have adopted the use of body cameras. According to Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, police officers have come to appreciate the cameras because they show what they are doing - following policies and laws. Additionally, he said that the video record can be used as evidence in prosecutions, for internal affairs investigations, and for training purposes. While the camera footage does not generally tell the whole story, they are effective in prosecuting cases and demonstrating officer behavior by showing much of what happened. 

Public perception is more important than ever for our police officers. As Evans Police Officer Rob Wardlaw puts it: “The hardest part of being an officer for me right now is just watching the media, seeing the way we are portrayed, the way that a lot of officers are being attacked - physically and through the media. We are out trying to help people, trying to do our jobs. We are able to help people who can’t always help themselves, and that is important to me.” 

I hope in some small way our report recognizes those numerous outstanding public servants in the public safety arena and the daily good work they do for our cities and towns. Your thoughts about this are always welcome and appreciated.

Municipalities Matter: A New Vision for CML

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Municipalities Matter

A New Vision for CML

Co-written by Executive Director Sam Mamet and Deputy Director Kevin Bommer

 

CMLIn his book Start With Why, condensed into a TED Talk, Simon Sinek challenges leaders and organizations to “think, act, and communicate from the inside out.” 

He reminds us that we often do the opposite by first saying what we do, then how we do it, and ending with why we do it because it is going from the “clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.” Sinek says that inspired leaders and organizations start first with a crystal clear vision of “why” to determine the “what” and the “how.” He calls it communicating from “the inside out.”  

For years, people have seen “The Voice of Colorado Cities and Towns” as part of CML’s logo and in email signatures. It represented one of the core functions of the Colorado Municipal League — advocacy — which is to be a megaphone in the state capitol, in the press, in Washington, and anywhere else where the message “keep home rule at home and local control local” needed to be heard. Yet that is only one of the many things that CML does — a “what” and not a “why.” Indeed, the League is considerably more active on behalf of our members, and it was clear that this tagline did not capture what CML does nor why CML exists. 

In 2016, the CML Executive Board and staff identified that the League’s existing vision statement was ponderous and unwieldy — that it did not clearly communicate CML’s aspirations in service of our member cities and towns. Throughout 2017, our board, chaired by Northglenn Mayor Carol Dodge, and our great staff engaged in conversations that challenged us first to think about why CML exists before we think about what CML does. The end result is a new, concise vision of the Colorado Municipal League: 

“Empowered cities and towns, united for a strong Colorado.”  

In essence, the vision does not begin with CML’s existence as the voice of our members. Rather, if we started with “why,” and we came to the conclusion pretty quickly that CML should work for our 269 member cities and towns to empower each one to carry out their daily goals in a united fashion to make for a strong state. This frame of reference gives CML the ability to shape our goals (what we do) to meet our purpose (why we exist). 

CML’s goals and objectives supporting our vision were updated by staff and approved by the CML Executive Board on Dec. 15. The goals are listed on CML’s website

Our day-to-day activities support the core functions of the League — advocacy, information, and training. Each core function, like the legs of a stool, shares equal importance in ensuring municipal officials can count on CML to serve their needs and that they have knowledge to affect change locally, regionally, and statewide. 

The vision of CML is now crystal clear. When every municipality is stronger, the state is stronger, and this vision will drive all decisions going forward as to what CML does and how CML will do it. 

We are interested in your thoughts on this new vision moving forward. We predict an exciting 2018 for CML, and wish you all the best in the year ahead.

Municipalities Matter: Reflections on the Year

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Municipalities Matter

Reflections on the Year

New YearThis is the time of year when we reflect. What have we accomplished? What are our hopes for the year ahead? 

Let me share a few things, in no special order. 

I am just so proud to be associated with my wonderful staff colleagues here at the League. It is amazing what they produce for you to help you be great leaders. Examples include the summer conference, as well as excellent and practical and cost-efficient training all year long; Colorado Cities & Towns Week; our State of Cities and Towns report; lobbying at the Capitol, and cutting-edge research for you through Knowledge Now reports. Not to mention the behind-the-scenes stuff, such as making sure that you are greeted properly and always promptly directed to who or what you need. Our organization is on sound financial footing, and the physical state of our building is always tip-top. Wait till you see our newly remodeled old library area with the new Main Street Meeting Room! 

On a personal level, I am proud of my wife Judith and all of her artistic accomplishments, as well as what our sons, Elliot and Abe, are up to. A dad could not be prouder of his boys than I am of our two guys. 

I look at your accomplishments. The recent election and the ballot measures that passed across Colorado are impressive. I say, “Wow!"

The trust that Coloradans have in you as municipal leaders is as high as Pikes Peak. You earn it daily, and deservedly so. I see improvements everywhere I travel across the four corners of the state. (And do I travel!) 

I am thankful for all of this as I reflect upon this year. 

Now, what do I hope for in the coming year? Well, I will make it simple. 

I want to see a comprehensive statewide solution to address infrastructure, including transportation, transit, multi-model, water and wastewater, and many other community needs. I would like to see a conversation that engages all of the cities and towns of Colorado. Opportunities for CML will occur, and we will be there. I know the leadership exists locally, I just want to see some push from under the Gold Dome starting in January. We have a number of good and decent state lawmakers who want to do the right thing. Let’s give them the support they deserve to do just that. 

I also want to continue to see vibrant and healthy municipalities. Your steady hand on the wheel of municipal governance will make this so. Our partnership with each of you is so important, and I value it. 

We are wrapping up revisions to our current strategic plan. Between League staff and Board, we have developed a new vision statement: 

Empowered cities and towns, united for a strong Colorado 

This is our new mantra, and I love what it symbolizes for the year ahead. It will be our focus day in and day out here at CML. Expect to hear more about our updated strategic plan over the weeks ahead. 

For now, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, and the very best in the new year ahead.

Municipalities Matter - Especially on Election Day

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Municipalities Matter

Especially on Election Day

Vote YesVoters want to control their own destiny in our state's great cities and towns. That is my key takeaway.  

In each of the 17 municipalities where a broadband question appeared, voters approved it overwhelmingly. In Fort Collins, the telecom lobby spent close to a half million dollars to defeat such a question - they were given the bronze boot (if you follow CSU football you will understand). So now there are 86 of 86 cities and towns where voters have said yes, and never once, no. Fort Collins voters approved $150 million in debt to move forward with implementation. 

Voters trust their local leaders. In many municipalities, where voters were asked multiple times for tax increases or debt authority, all of the questions received a thumbs up. Examples of this include Boulder, Denver, Lafayette, and Longmont. 

Approved bond proposals total more than $1.2 billion! Denver is a huge chunk of that, but even without counting Denver and Fort Collins, bond proposals still total more than $150 million. Voters are telling their municipal leaders to continue investing in the future. 

Further proof that voters trust their local leaders - extending taxes that were set to expire. In Lafayette, this is an open space tax; in Louisville, historic preservation sales and use tax; and in Boulder, community culture and safety sales tax and utility occupation tax.  

In addition, five of the six cities that asked voters to retain TABOR restricted revenue – either generally, as in Canon City, Leadville, and Salida, or within specific parameters, as in Greeley and Littleton – received approval.  

Voters recognize that local taxes mean local improvements and increased quality of life. Common themes for approved tax extension/increases or bond approvals include: public safety (tax: Durango, Firestone, Longmont, Pueblo; bonds: Denver) and road improvements (tax: Fort Morgan, Rocky Ford, Northglenn; bonds: Denver, Idaho Springs, Lafayette, Lochbuie). Longmont and Hayden approved debt for water improvements. 

Look at the whole range of elections from last week. I am impressed. 

Municipal leaders solve problems, and it is evident once again that local voters trust what Colorado's cities and towns accomplish every day of the year. 

Congratulations!

Municipalities Matter: Shift and Shaft

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Municipalities Matter

Shift and Shaft

Back in the day, when I was still lobbying for CML under the Gold Dome, there was an old parlor game I used to have to play. It was called “Shift and Shaft.” The game was pretty easy to follow: The legislature would try to pass something either preempting or restricting the ability of cities and towns (that was called The Shift), and then municipal leaders would be left holding the bag (that was called The Shaft). People attributed the term to me, and I am happy to take credit. Fortunately, it does not play out as much at the state Capitol these days. We have a strong and positive partnership with state lawmakers. I, for one, appreciate that. A dozen lawmakers at the moment once even served as municipal leaders, and many were active within CML. 

Dark Skies Over CapitolHowever, in Washington, I am sad to say, the game of shift and shaft goes on a lot more, this time under the guise of tax reform. 

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee released its long-awaited “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act” plan. The proposed tax reform plan aims to streamline the U.S. tax code and create some tax relief for middle- and low-income Americans by reducing the number of tax brackets and marginal tax rates, while expanding family tax credits. 

Unfortunately, these cuts are paid for on the backs of the state and cities and towns in Colorado. Here are five things you need to know. 

 

  1. The overall municipal bond exemption appears not to be affected, BUT. There is an exemption for municipal bonds in the federal tax code. It is a top priority for Colorado municipal leaders to protect it. Currently, the overall tax exemption for municipal bonds is not altered. But ... 
  2. Other types of bond financing are seriously threatened. The tax exemption for newly issued private activity bonds (PABs) is eliminated. This includes financing for important qualified projects and programs, such as affordable housing, economic development, hospitals, educational and cultural facilities, single-family mortgage bonds, single and multifamily housing, and much more. They help spur private investment and allow you to harness the private sector’s experience and engage in numerous public-private partnerships. Part of the PAB annual allocation is overseen by a committee within the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) oversees the allotment of multifamily and single-family housing PABs. The plan also repeals the advance refunding of bonds which are done to achieve interest savings. This makes no sound fiscal sense. 
  3. Pass the SALT I: The property tax deduction survives, but is capped. The National League of Cities (NLC) was able to convince the House leadership from proposing a complete elimination of the state and local property tax deduction (SALT, state and local tax deduction). The plan right now proposes permitting a deduction of property taxes up to $10,000. NLC maintains that any reduction to property tax deductions hurts local taxing control. This could hurt property tax dependent local governments in Colorado, such as school districts. 
  4. Pass the SALT II: Deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (the rest of SALT) is axed. Colorado is not now, nor has it ever been, a high tax burden state by virtue of every statistic available. However, we are a high local sales tax burden state. Cities and towns rely more on the sales tax than municipalities in most other states. We are able to levy the sales tax at a rate higher than the state’s, and for many municipalities on a base more expansive than the state base. It is why we rely less on state-shared revenues. This proposal hangs us out to dry, period. 
  5. Some key tax credits for cities also are eliminated. The Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC), which encourages the redevelopment of historic and abandoned buildings, is slated for elimination, along with New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), which are used to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing a modest tax incentive to private investors. CML supports the preservation of key tax credits such as HTC and NMTC that help revitalize communities. The federal HTC is leveraged with a Colorado HTC, and often is coupled with the historic preservation grants program keyed off of limited stakes gaming in Colorado. Historic preservation programs throughout the state will be dealt a serious blow. The NMTC has been used by several cities in the state to leverage local revitalization efforts through their urban renewal programs. 

 

This is a 429-page bill, the devil is very definitely in the details and fine print. Colorado’s tax base is coupled to that of the federal base. One of the things being altered is the estate tax, and this could have revenue implications for the state’s budget. 

And remember, we have TABOR to contend with as far as addressing revenue losses that might be caused by federal tax modifications. The House Ways and Means Committee (no member of Colorado’s delegation sits on this committee) will likely finish mark up by the time you read this. A vote in the U.S. House is likely during the week of Nov. 13. And, that same week, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to markup and report its version of tax reform. Sen. Bennet is a member of that committee. December will be a critical month to reconcile differences and then to attempt to pass something to President Trump. 

So welcome to Washington’s version of Shift and Shaft. I don’t like it, and neither should you. Please contact Sens. Bennet and Gardner and the members of our House delegation: Reps. Buck, Coffman, DeGette, Lamborn, Perlmutter, Polis, and Tipton. Go to the federal issues link of our web page for their contact information.  

Keep me posted on the results of your contact, and let’s hope we can shelve Shift and Shaft for another day.

Municipalities Matter - Especially on Nov. 7

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Municipalities Matter

Municipalities Matter, Especially on Nov. 7

For fun, I read municipal ballot questions. 

I pretend they are homework assignments, written by cities and towns and graded by voters on election day. My guess most of them will get an “A” on Nov. 7. 

Support for municipal government in our beloved Centennial State remains quite high. It is all about problem solving, and that is what city and town leaders in Colorado and across the nation do best. 

You want to fix a road, repair a broken water treatment facility, build a trail or bike path, or address affordable housing? You will wait a while at the Statehouse, and it will be an eternity in Washington. 

But, at the local level, you will get an answer pretty quick. That is what election day is all about. 

We have nearly 80 cities and towns with ballot measures before local voters. Here are just few interesting ones I am watching (in no special order): 

  • Talk about thinking big - The more than $900 million bond package proposed by Denver for infrastructure and citywide public improvements is huge. Citizen participation and tremendous Mayor Michael Hancock–City Council collaboration framed this issue. 
  • This is matched in importance, though not in size dollar-wise, by Dillon. There, voters will review a $5 million bond issue for workforce housing. This is a critical issue up in the high country. 
  • Then there is just the plain interesting: Should Pueblo keep the council-manager system or go with a mayor-council system? Should a mayor be directly elected and a change be made in how councilmembers are elected in Castle Rock? Will term limits be eliminated in Red Cliff and Wray? Should Boulder continue its pursuit of municipal electrification? The fate of a tax measure may determine the outcome. 
  • Every one of the 69 times since 2005 when asked about municipal broadband, voters have said yes, with rarely below 70 percent in favor. My guess this election day, we’ll see another 16 of 16 pass. Telecom lobby, can you hear me now? 
  • Colorado Springs has struggled mightily to address its stormwater issues involving Fountain Creek. I admire the leadership of one of our state’s best mayors, John Suthers, working with his wonderful council to put forward to voters a modest fee increase to address this significant challenge. He did it with a sales tax increase for streets, and I predict resounding success this time around for stormwater. 
  • While many measures are placed on the ballot via the efforts of the municipal governing body, others are done with citizen initiatives. One example is in Denver, where voters will deal with “green” roofs and solar energy requirements for certain new construction. 

Now, let me vent, and let me thank. 

First, the venting. 

There are a lot of nefarious outside interest groups trying to hijack some of our municipal elections. Municipal governance is about non-partisanship (state law says so) and doing what is right for the community with a broad leadership vision (that is what CML stands for at our core). I wish these groups with narrow interests on both sides of the political spectrum funded by who knows who would go back to where they came from and stay there. Ugh! 

Now, more importantly, to the thanking. 

I have a number of pals leaving the municipal family. I am going to list a bunch of names, and surely will have forgotten a few (apologies in advance). These are women and men who have served with distinction, often anonymously, without aspiration to higher office or for partisan or personal gain. Public service at the municipal level is the highest calling. It has been a pleasure to work for these folks and be on their team. 

So, thank you and a tip of my Rockies baseball cap to: Don Allard (Arvada councilmember, a quarter century!), Steve Nawrocki (Pueblo council president, and a leader in southern Colorado), Kim Dykes (Brush councilmember), Chuck Schonberger (Brush mayor), Walt Magill (Steamboat council president), Bob McWilliams (Fort Lupton councilmember), Rene Bullock (Commerce City council member, the party never starts until Rene has arrived), Dick McClean (Brighton mayor, kind and decent), Tom Norton (Greeley mayor, a political mentor), Bruce Beckman (Littleton mayor), Dallas Hall (Sheridan mayor), Patrick Lawson (Sterling councilmember), Val Vigil (Thornton cpuncilmember, and one of my best friends), Mack Goodman (Thornton councilmember, and we see eye to eye on everything!), Brad Pierce (Aurora councilmember, gentle soul indeed), Barb Cleland (Aurora councilmember, past CML president, a leader, and my pal of very long standing), Gabe Santos (Longmont council member), Dennis Coombs (Longmont mayor, with the best smile in the state), Glenn Michel (Crested Butte mayor), Cathy Noon (Centennial mayor, and “Leader" is her middle name), Matt Appelbaum (Boulder councilmember, my teacher on many things), Lynn Horner (La Junta mayor), Jeffrey Huff (Castle Pines mayor), Alberto Garcia (Westminster councilmember, bleeds Westy through and through - I love it!), Joyce Jay (Wheat Ridge mayor, what a legacy on good things for the Carnation City), Shakti (Lakewood councilmember), and Tom Bishop (Greenwood village councilmember and one of the best investment bankers I have worked with). 

Good luck to all those running for municipal office on Nov. 7. We will have preliminary results on ballot issues soon thereafter. CML newly elected official training will get underway in early 2018. 

I love municipal election day, and I hope you do as well. Please vote.

Municipalities Matter: A Case for an Online Sales Tax

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Municipalities Matter

A Case for an Online Sales Tax

This is a guest post by Lisa Soronen, State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) executive director. SLLC files U.S. Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Big Seven national organizations, including the National League of Cities (NLC), representing state and local governments. This first appeared in CITIES Speak blog series by NLC

 

Online SalesFor years, local authorities have tangled with online retailers over sales tax collection within communities. But this fall, a new development in a blockbuster Supreme Court case could force the issue into the national spotlight. 

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992), the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax. Now, the state of South Dakota has filed a petition in South Dakota v. Wayfair asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to its law requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. 

In March 2015, Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion, stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this court to reexamine Quill.” Justice Kennedy criticized Quill in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl for many of the same reasons the State and Local Legal Center stated in its amicus brief. Specifically, Internet sales have risen astronomically since 1992 — and states and local governments are unable to collect most taxes due on sales from out-of-state vendors.  

Following the Kennedy opinion, a number of state legislatures passed legislation requiring remote vendors to collect sales tax. South Dakota’s law is the first to be ready for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In September, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the South Dakota law is unconstitutional because it clearly violates Quill and that it is up to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule it.  

Ruling in South Dakota’s favor will require the U.S. Supreme Court to take the unusual step of overruling precedent. In its petition, South Dakota explains why the court should agree to hear this case and rule in its favor: Quill clearly needs to go. 

When the court considers overruling its precedent, it looks to whether the existing rule: (1) is constitutional or statutory; (2) has engendered reliance interests; (3) has been undermined by changed circumstances; (4) has been consistently criticized as inconsistent with broader doctrine; and (5) has proven “unworkable” or “outdated” with experience. 

Quill fares poorly on every measure. It is a severely criticized, constitutional holding that itself warned when decided that it might later be reconsidered. It is also, in Justice Gorsuch’s words, a “precedential island … surrounded by a sea of contrary law.” And after 25 years of technological progress and economic changes, it has proven entirely out of date. 

At this point, the only thing South Dakota's petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to do is agree to hear its case. U.S. Supreme Court review is discretionary; four of the nine justices must agree to hear any case. If the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to do so, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruling that South Dakota’s law is unconstitutional will stay in place. 

It is possible the court could hear this case this term — meaning it would issue an opinion by the end of June 2018.

Municipalities Matter: Wildfires Are a Community Design Problem

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Municipalities Matter

Wildfires Are a Community Design Problem

This is a guest post by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and Yucel Ors of the National League of Cities (NLC); this first appeared in CITIES Speak blog series by NLC

Wildfire Outside Colorado SpringsEvery mayor or city manager has read an article or watched a news clip focused on a community ravaged by wildfire. Many have even witnessed firsthand the economic, environmental, and social implications that wildland-urban interface fires can create in unprepared communities. Every year, these images grow more widespread and familiar. 

For American communities, wildfire should no longer be considered an exception — it is a fact of life. 

Nor should government officials mistakenly assume that wildfire happens only to other communities and not theirs. We should approach the threat of wildfire as a "when" concern, not a "what-if". 

When wildfire enters a community, its path of destruction is fueled by overgrown, diseased, and drought-stricken vegetation. It destroys animal habitats, affects air quality, and quality of life. When wildfire encounters what is called a wildland-urban interface — such as the wooded edge of a populous suburb — it can alter course, burning through homes, businesses, and infrastructure.  

Each of these impacts comes with a price tag, which can quickly add up to tens of millions of dollars. But even more important than structures and money, wildfire may cost the lives of citizens, visitors, and firefighters/first responders. 

The most dangerous kinds of wildfires, which attack communities adjacent to and surrounded by wildlands, are not unique to the West or specific to the Rocky Mountains, as is commonly thought. Most recently, fires in the southeast have become frequent and severe — a glaring proof of threat for every city in the nation. For this reason alone, it is essential that leaders of communities containing wildland-urban interface zones take immediate action.  

Moreover, wildfire damages more than just what lies in its path: the aftermath of a burn is capable of contaminating or incapacitating watersheds. The deposition of ash, soot, and debris in reservoirs, streams, and water supplies for remote communities can prove catastrophic.  

Contaminated water means a temporary or even long-term loss of water supply — which can cripple a community economically. The significant expense of cleaning and rehabilitating, as well as any related lawsuits, is funded primarily by taxpayer dollars. 

Worse, deforestation from so-called "crown fires" can sterilize the ground — leaving soils unable to collect and retain rainwater. This can increase the severity of flash floods and landslides for years. Mitigate or deflecting the damage is costly, and it requires committing both resources and personnel over extended periods of time. Over time, this issue can also cause subsidence issues with existing infrastructure, bridges, and buildings.  

Simply put, fires that reach the wildland-urban interface are bad news. But when a community is prepared, the worst impacts can be avoided. Preparedness and planning are key to mitigating the damage — and community leaders should develop strategies to address the challenges these events impose. 

City leaders can prepare by following simple steps like these: 

  1. Planning and practicing evacuating, as recommended by the Ready, Set, Go! Program
  2. Discussing and planning with local fire and law enforcement officials. 
  3. Examining risks and developing strategies to lower risks. 
  4. Engaging and leading the community in Firewise® strategies, as already described through FireAdapted Communities
  5. Recognizing that fire is part of our natural environment. It is a method utilized by nature to clean and control forest and range lands. Fire is an essential component for the rejuvenation of forests, grasslands, and prairies. As such, similar to how the nation prepares for other natural forces and events, we must respect wildland fire’s power and learn to adapt.  

Strategic wildfire planning does not have to mean clear-cutting or obliterating forested land. It does not necessarily involve unsightly or cost-prohibitive building regulations But it does mean developing awareness and exposing risks, as well as identifying what outcomes are achievable through recognition, preparation, and dialog. 

Properly preparing community leaders for their roles in wildfire planning and development is an essential goal to National League of Cities. There are many resources available to assist.  

About the authors: John Suthers was elected the 41st mayor of Colorado Springs on May 19, 2015. Suthers brings decades of experience in government and management to the City of Colorado Springs. Before being elected mayor, Suthers served as attorney general of Colorado from 2005 to 2015.

Municipalities Matter: Managing Meetings for Civility

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Municipalities Matter: Managing Meetings for Civility

Jon Stavneya guest blog by Jon Stavney, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments executive director

In a recent editorial "We are neighbors not enemies," the Vail Daily praised Town of Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver, who did something quite unusual before a contentious hearing. 

It was a developers' second attempt in 2017 following a hearing Carver later described as full of "hatred and unruly people that just didn't start off good." That first proposal was denied on a 3-3 split vote. Unable to attend that first meeting, Carver, as owner of Big Steve's Towing, was occupied on Vail Pass that winter's night. This summer, the developer adjusted the project by reducing the density and reapplied. That this developer manages some very large rental projects in Avon from which some opponents were proud to have moved their families away from into homeownership in Gypsum, didn't help their case. 

Carver, when interviewed said, "I told the crowd there would be no bad mouthing or cussing; don't address the crowd, the developer, or staff, address the council."  

"In short, the lines were drawn and the meeting was ripe for confrontation," noted the Daily, but before the hearing started, the four-term mayor did something he had never done before. He asked the crowd to take five minutes, stand up up, and introduce yourselves to your neighbors. 

Public hearings, the right to testify, the right to due process for an applicant in a transparent, public process are hallmarks of our civil society that get a regular workout in our local jurisdictions. Yet on many levels, we seem unable to interact without name-calling. Community leaders have a golden opportunity to facilitate that increasingly rare thing - a civil discourse.  

Learning to do so can take learning from painful experiences. How do we respect each other and the process when the decision has no right or wrong answer? The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments had a taste of that challenge recently in Grand Lake where they presided over a complex "208 water quality" hearing with a room filled with well-prepared residents. The attendees showed up on behalf of a single outcome-clearer water in Grand Lake - but with widely varying opinions about the course of action to best achieve that outcome.  

CivilityCivility is also a question contemplated by the City of Craig Mayor Jim Ponikvar who spoke recently at the CML conference about how desperately his community needed to "change the culture and the conversation," which they did through an extended public conversation about an iconic book called Thirteen Ways to Kill Your Community, by Doug Griffiths and Kelly Clemmer.  

Back in Gypsum, Carver's Five-Minute Method provided a coup de grace to incivility at one hearing. 

With the tone of the conversation at fever pitch in social media and in places such as Charlottesville, Virginia, navigating toward civility may just be a local leaders' most important role.

Municipalities Matter: Especially in Washington

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Municipalities Matter

Especially in Washington

U.S. Capitol

I am very concerned with the package of budget cuts proposed by President Trump. Either we have a solid partnership with Washington, or we don’t. Domestic budget priorities always reflect the mood of the White House and Congress on how fairly cities and towns, and their residents, should be treated. 

Let me highlight some spending reductions that really concern me at the moment: 

  • Elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). Colorado’s 17 municipalities that receive direct disbursements, known as “entitlement communities,” shared some $27 million in 2015, while the state received nearly $8 million for disbursement to non-entitlement local governments. Cities and towns use CDBG dollars to fund both municipal programs as well as contracting services through nonprofit entities. Housing programs are the major focus, but city council decisions on where to spend CDBG money reflects local needs. Among the wide variety of programs that benefit: public housing, homeless facilities, homeownership assistance, food banks, mental health services, child care services, and senior citizen services. 
  • Reduction of the EPA Superfund program budget by 30 percent. Seventeen Colorado cities and towns are directly impacted by the 25 Superfund sites in the state. 
  • Reduction of Amtrak funding by $630 million to eliminate long distance routes including the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief that serve Colorado. Coloradans board Amtrak trains in Fort Morgan, Denver, Winter Park/Fraser, Granby, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. The state is working with local governments and Amtrak on plans to expand service to Pueblo.  
  • Elimination of the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes passenger flights to rural areas. Cortez, Pueblo, and Alamosa would lose passenger air service.  
  • Elimination of TIGER transportation grants that have funded such projects as railroad crossing quiet zones in Windsor, Southwest Chief track improvements in southeast Colorado, and North I-25 improvements impacting Johnstown, Loveland, Windsor, and Fort Collins. 
  • Reduction of funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development programs such as the water and wastewater loan and grant program (recent projects include Wiggins, Crook, and Del Norte) and the rural single-family housing direct loan program. 

There also is a threat to the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. The greatest impact Congress can have on improving our nation’s infrastructure is by retaining the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. Local government investments in infrastructure financed through municipal bonds are two-and-one-half times that of all federal infrastructure investment. Eliminating or reducing municipal bond tax-exempt status would drive up the cost of financing infrastructure both for municipal budgets and for taxpayers. 

Elimination of the state and local government tax deduction on federal tax returns would result in double taxation for American taxpayers. In Colorado, one-third of taxpayers use it with an average deduction of $2,796. It is not just the top tier income levels making use of the deduction – 40 percent of taxpayers in the $50,000 to $75,000 bracket take the deduction, which has been a fundamental element in the federal income tax code since its inception more than a century ago. 

These are a few items at the moment on my mind. If you agree, I hope you will contact the members of our federal delegation during this summer recess. I have a strong suspicion Sens. Bennet and Gardner and Reps. Buck, Coffman, DeGette, Lamborn, Perlmutter, Polis, and Tipton want to hear from you. 

Let me know the results of your contacts. A continued Washington-municipal partnership is vital.

Municipalities Matter: Happy Birthday to Us

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Municipalities Matter

Happy Birthday to Us!

Colorado flagToday is our 141st birthday. 

I say "our" because Aug. 1, 1876, is when President Ulysses S. Grant approved statehood for The Centennial State. And today, as in everyday, we are Colorado. 

We have so much that unites us in our natural beauty and glory, strong economy, and dedicated leadership at the state and especially at the municipal level. 

And the League is a catalyst to help cities and towns work together for the common good in the spirit of good governance. 

So, today give special thanks for something you really appreciate about Colorado. Let me know what it is - I would love to hear from you!

Municipalities Matter: Leadership Matters Most

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Municipalities Matter

Leadership Matters Most

Inspiration PhotoIt was such a delight to see so many of you at our recently concluded annual conference. It was another record-breaking, successful event. Thanks to so many of you who attended, from all four corners of our great state. 

If you attended, I encourage you to complete an evaluation. This will help us plan for next year’s conference June 19-22 in Vail. 

If you were not able to attend, many of the conference materials are posted on our wonderful website, which I hope you have bookmarked. 

There were two things at the conference which truly energized me:  

 

 

One session focused on climate change and how communities are coping with the issue. The session was packed with municipal leaders from across the state. A question was posed by one of the presenters: How many of you feel climate change is an issue your city or town should be addressing? Every hand in the room went up as near as I could tell.  

In another session, we heard from Craig Mayor John Ponikvar, one of our new mayors, who participated in a session addressing the changing nature of our rural economies based upon some important research conducted by the Leeds Business School at the University of Colorado - Boulder. It was a riveting panel. Mayor Ponikvar acknowledged the changes happening in Craig and discussed how elected leaders can adapt. A terrific session. 

I was not only inspired, but proud CML can be the “go-to” organization bringing local leaders together to explore complex challenges and treat them as wonderful opportunities that can be discussed in a respectful and insightful manner. Inspiring indeed! 

Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to us, and gave a full throttled endorsement of our beloved state’s potential to do much more in the area of climate change while continuing to grow Colorado jobs and without increasing consumer costs. He is concerned about climate change, I am concerned about climate change, and I have a feeling many of you are, as well. The governor talked about how the state and municipal leaders can work together as partners in this policy arena. 

Earlier this week, Gov. Hickenlooper released an Executive Order on this issue. Three things from the order resonate with me:  

 

  • Developing a statewide electric vehicle plan. A number of cities and towns are facilitating local electric chargers. The state has been an active participant in promoting this. It makes good sense.  
  • Encouraging a robust partnership between the state and municipalities on local-led climate resilience actions. An exchange of best practices across the state is one way to accomplish this with state facilitation.  
  • Working with local leaders from communities especially impacted by the changing energy landscape. I consider this the governor’s most important recommendation. No community should feel left behind, and their desires should be acknowledged, respected, and supported.  

 

There are a number of municipal leaders already jumping in with both feet on the issue. I want to recognize the recent efforts of Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron with the Compact of Colorado Communities Conference; Colorado Climate Network (co-convened by the League and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, of which I am a board member); and, finally, the Colorado Communities for Climate Action, an advocacy organization of county and municipal officials. 

I would like to know how many of you would be interested in exploring ways to partner with the state on the topic of climate change, sustainability, and resiliency.  

If we pursue a state partnership on this issue, what do you think it should look like? Send me an email or give me a shout at the office (303-831-6411 or 866-578-0936). 

I don’t know where this might take us, and I am respectful of the various viewpoints that are out there.  

I do know this, all of you are problem solvers, and I think this is one in which we can make a difference, both individually as well as collectively.  

I will keep you posted. 

Go Rockies and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Municipalities Matter: Supporting Summer Meals

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Municipalities Matter

Supporting Summer Meals

Before you know it, summer will be here and that means a lot of fun in the sun, especially for our kiddos throughout the state. 

Cities and towns do a lot to support programs targeted for children, and I want to put in a plug for one that I think is keenly important and where municipal leaders can play an important role - supporting summer meals programs. 

Kids at LunchDuring the school year, 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. But when school is out, many low-income children relying on these school meals go hungry. To fill this gap, the USDA provides federally funded meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This program provides free, nutritious meals to children at approved sites in areas with high concentrations of low-income children. 

The SFSP brings federal dollars into communities in the form of combined reimbursements for meals and operations/administrative costs. Community leaders can help by making SFSP a priority. Empower your various community organizations to champion summer meals and let these groups know that federal funds are available to support their efforts. 

To find summer sites near you, visit Kids Food Finder.

In Colorado, there are 86 program sponsors and 595 meal sites. The number of meals served in 2016 was 1,465,426. Pretty impressive I’d say! Gov. Hickenlooper has declared June National Summer meals for Hungry Children Awareness Month, and one goal of the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Office of School Nutrition is to increase program access and awareness in Colorado. The CDE Office of School Nutrition collaborates with statewide organizations to help promote the program and connect with community stakeholders to increase food access for families. The statewide marketing campaign includes Denver RTD bus and light-rail advertisements, AMC Movie Theater ads, Family Dollar receipt advertisements, Facebook and Instagram ads, and summer magnets distributed to WIC clinics.   

For more information about supporting a summer meals program in your city or town visit the CDE website or email Ashley Moen

CML is a proud co-sponsor of this effort. I hope you will join in. Let me know.

Municipalities Matter... And So Does Resiliency

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Municipalities Matter

And So Does Resiliency

CML, individual cities and towns, and allied organizations continue working to bring about new collaborative efforts between the state and local governments to make our communities more resilient to climate-change-related risks.  

Two years ago, the state government commissioned an overview study by experts from the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and other institutions on Colorado’s vulnerabilities to increases in wildfires, floods, heat waves, and other climate change impacts. 

The Colorado Local Resilience Project brought together 78 representatives of 30 local governments, who produced a broad, consensus report outlining a path forward in how local governments can improve their resilience to climate-related risks. 

This call for action asks more local governments to take action in their own communities to improve their local resilience, and for local governments to work together and in partnership with the state and federal governments. Climate-related risks do not respect governmental boundaries, and coordinated actions among all levels of government will be necessary. 

In the past few months, delegations of local officials and staff have had meetings with the governor’s staff and top officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to push collaborative state-local action on several priority recommendations. 

The central message in these meetings has been that local governments are demonstrating leadership in preparing for the potential risks of climate change, but that to be fully effective those efforts need to rest on a strong foundation of state and local collaboration. 

Out of the 36 recommendations from the Local Resilience Project, we have pushed for several practical, affordable priorities: 

  • That CDPHE collaborate with local public health officials and others to determine how climate-related risks can best be factored into state public health programs and regulatory decisions. 
  • That the state government lead a collaborative process, with input from local health departments and others, to assess the existing capacity of state and local health departments to address climate-related risks to public health, and as necessary to develop proposals to fill in the gaps in that capacity.  
  • That a detailed assessment of climate-related risks to natural resources and recreation in Colorado be prepared. This could be a comprehensive study, or it could begin with one or more individual topics. A scientific assessment of exactly how a hotter, drier climate could increase our wildfire risks would be a logical starting point. 
  • That CDPHE take the lead in convening an annual workshop for state and local health officials to learn from experts about the latest information on climate-related risks to public health, and how those risks can be tackled. 
  • That DNR convene similar annual workshops focused on risks to natural resources and outdoor recreation. 
  • That the state government pull together and make available information to help local governments with their preparedness actions, including through a single clearinghouse on climate change, climate impacts, and best practices. 

In these and other ways, the state government and local governments can work together to be much more cost-effective than if everybody tries to tackle these issues alone. 

Local governments, of course, have a unique and crucial role in addressing climate-related risks, just as with any other risks to the safety and prosperity of their communities and residents. The type of local risks posed by climate change may be new. But local government action to reduce local risks has been important for as long as we have had local government. 

Contact me to learn how your city or town might become involved in these efforts or to share the story of what you are already doing.

Municipalities Matter ... In All Areas of Colorado

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Municipalities Matter

In All Areas of Colorado

Colorado MapRemember a few years ago, there was a lot of talk here about various counties across the state seceding to create a 51st state. It died with a thud, but the emotional part of this resonated with me and I blogged about it at the time

I was reminded of this Colorado urban-rural divide debate once again as I was listening to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State speech last week. I thought it was an excellent speech, which touched upon several important themes. One that he mentioned is “rural” - 15 times. 

I am in the middle of a terrific book premised upon what growing up in rural American means: Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. It is a riveting story about one young man’s life in Appalachia culminating in his graduation from Yale Law School. This book is helping me to understand many complex things going on in our society right now. It is well written, expressed in a very respectful tone. 

As I have discovered, rural means many things to many people. Demographers will have one way of describing rural, economists another. There is not one single legal definition, and Washington alone has at least 15 different definitions of the word either in statue or regulation. 

As I have said before, rural for me is wrapped up in a sense of community and an attitude of “we just need a hand-up and not a hand out.” There is a strong adherence to individualism, as well as a recognition among the municipal leaders I know so well in rural Colorado that they will reach out and work with other neighboring cities and towns to solve a problem. It is also an attitude of getting things done without fanfare. All these good folks really want in return is to be listened to and have a sense that their voices are heard. 

The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank branch in Denver recently released an employment trends analysis for Colorado and other states in the Rocky Mountain region. It found that half of our state’s counties still have not recovered the jobs lost when the financial crisis hit us hard in 2008. These rural counties have nearly 3 percent fewer jobs today, while the state’s more urban counties have nearly 12 percent more jobs since 2008. 

We have more deaths attributed to opioid and prescription drug abuse than we do from homicides in Colorado. The most acute problems of abuse have been tracked to more than a dozen rural counties in Colorado. 

There is an information highway divide that exists in this state, most of which involves adequate access to broadband. This is a necessary utility and not a luxury from an economic development standpoint in so many rural areas of the state. 

Our natural resource declines in the state have a had a dramatic impact in places such as the North Fork Valley in Delta County as well as Craig and Moffat County. 

Gov. Hickenlooper laid out several proposals that are worth highlighting as evidence of a strong partnership between the state and municipalities: 

  • He has called for an “on the ground” rural economic development specialist to be located somewhere other than Denver to be the eyes and ears of rural Colorado. The League stands ready to assist this individual. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs has in a budget request for an individual to specifically focus on communities impacted by serious natural resource declines. 
  • The governor made an impassioned plea for more financial assistance to communities in need of broadband. He is calling for the creation of a broadband point person in his office to coordinate the many efforts throughout state government. This is a terrific idea. 
  • We need a statewide solution to solve statewide transportation and transit issues; he has called upon the General Assembly to work with him this session to accomplish this. 
  • Finally, Gov. Hickenlooper correctly identified the “fiscal thicket” of tax policy and its negative impact upon both school financing and the state’s general fund. The hospital provider fee gets us there, but more profound changes to tax policy, starting with TABOR, would be even better. 

These are the challenges we face heading into the new year. I think we are up to the task, and I am interested in what you think.

Municipalities Matter: Life Is Better

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Municipalities Matter

Life Is Better

 

Again and again, Colorado cities and towns earn national recognition as “best places to live” and “best places to start a business.” There are many factors behind the popularity of our cities and towns - Colorado’s natural beauty, our educated workforce, and the economic development efforts of our municipalities working with the business community to create jobs. There is another element that is a major factor in the success of our cities and towns: the quality of life features created by municipal governments. 

CML takes a look at this factor in our 2017 State of Our Cities & Towns report, which is based on a survey that measured the depth and variety of “livability” amenities provided by municipal governments. Municipal government has become so much more than providing basic services such as public safety and utilities. The public has demanded and supported the delivery of a long list of amenities that have created the quality of life we enjoy in our cities and towns. 

You can hike city trails during the day (the Golden trail system comes to mind) and attend a performance at the municipal theater that evening. Take your kids to the zoo (perhaps the historic Pueblo Zoo). Take your animals to the dog park. Turn some dirt at a community garden. Sell your crop at the farmer’s market. Learn and socialize at the Wray Public Library. Watch the For Peetz Sake Day parade on Main Street, ooh and aah at the Fourth of July fireworks, or enjoy any number of community events (Alamosa hosts many throughout the year). Fish at the Lamar ponds. Treat your out of town visitors to our rich history in a historic downtown such as Silverton or a local museum like Limon's. Visit parks and recreation centers to swim laps, romp through the splash pad, sign up for softball, or practice yoga. Smell the sage brush in the wide expanse of municipal open space. Ride through Loveland’s North Lake Park on the Buckhorn Railroad or just stand in awe of the beauty of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. 

Can there be anywhere else in the world where a city program offers ice climbing at one end of town and a soak in the municipal hot springs pool at the other? That’s life in Ouray. 

Municipal facilities, activities, and events create the quality of life that makes our cities and towns the best places to live, work, and raise a family. 

I cannot state it better than Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Director Karen Palus did in her interview: “Quality of life issues are important to families when you’re making decisions about which community you want to live in and where you want to raise your children.”

Still wondering why you should plan for quality of life? In less than five minutes, one more video will explain it all. I would like to know your thoughts on this matter.

 

Municipalities Matter: Planning for the Future

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Municipalities Matter

Planning for the Future

There was a pop song from the early 1970s by folk singer Melanie that is apropos for what I have to say in this year-end blog. Maybe you remember some of the lyrics: 

I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think we should get together and try them out you see 

Well, we have new desk chairs for the CML staff, and we have two new colleagues sitting in those new chairs. 

Morgan Cullen is the newest member of our lobbying team, joining Kevin Bommer (who expertly directs our statehouse activity), Dianne Criswell, and Meghan Dollar. Morgan has a very strong background in municipal economic development out of Aurora, and also worked for my old pal and fellow Capitol denizen, former Gov. Bill Owens. 

Tami Yellico is our newest chief justice over Colorado municipal law, as our municipal legal services manager. This is a new position I created to provide an even sharper focus on the needs of our esteemed and valued municipal law community in the state. She has a 25-year background in the practice of local government law. As they say, she has the “chops.” 

We are lucky to have them join our family, and I am excited to have you meet them. 

Here at the League, we join your cities and towns in honoring the past while planning for the future. (Look at what Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe and his great city recently did by buying the iconic Tabor Opera House. Leadville wants to preserve its past by investing in its future. This is what I’m talking about.) 

Since 1923, CML has provided advocacy, information, and training for the betterment of Colorado cities and towns. In support of that legacy, we have a strategic plan that guides CML for the future. I am proud of the effort that my staff colleagues and board members have put into it. Honoring our past, we are planning for the future. 

I recently shared my 2017 vision with the CML Executive Board, so very capably guided by our president, Montrose City Manager Bill Bell. Not to be presumptuous, I thought you might be interested: 

  • I am excited to help Tami continue to build a solid foundation for the League within the municipal law area. She has unbounded energy and is brimming with ideas in her efforts to reach out to municipal lawyers statewide, and she will help recommit CML to serve in new and interesting ways the needs of these men and women who we all rely upon for sage advice and direction. 
  • We plan a remodel of the library area, and are calling the project “building for the future.” This is a high priority for me. We plan to construct additional meeting and office space, as well as a recording studio, where we can record our webinars, produce our videos, and expand into other areas, such as podcasts. The architects are lined up and I expect the project to get underway in June. 
  • Our strategic plan will continue to be refined and implemented. We are in its fourth year, and have implemented many changes. It has a focus on advocacy, member engagement, training, research, information, and leadership. Our municipal research revamp with Mark Radtke at the helm is but one tangible result of the plan. I remain totally focused on it. Kudos to Kevin in overseeing it all. 
  • Our municipal research functions should always have a focus on best practices, and I will be searching for new ways to enhance that with our Research Committee, chaired by Buena Vista Town Administrator Brandy Reiter, who is a municipal administrator rock star. 
  • We have a new federal administration, and I am looking forward to forging new partnerships and seeking new opportunities with President-elect Donald Trump on behalf of our great Colorado cities and towns. I personally wish him all the very best of success in his endeavors. And, I hope over time he gets to meet and know the true problem solvers in public service, all of you! 

As we approach the new year of 2017, these are things within the friendly confines of CML that I am looking forward to, and I would love your feedback. As you know, I always enjoy my visits to your communities so let’s plan some in the coming months. 

One final thing, I want to remind you about our Municipal Hero awards program. Be sure to make your nominations by March 3. 

Enjoy a wonderful holiday season, and the very best to each of you in the new year ahead. I value your leadership and support of CML.

Municipalities Matter: Mayors, Broadband, Soda Pop, and Chickens

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Municipalities Matter

Mayors, Broadband, Soda Pop, and Chickens

By Sam Mamet, CML executive director, and Mark Radtke, CML municipal research analyst

We are truly a government “of the people” - and the best examples of the people deciding their future can be found in Colorado’s municipal elections. 

On Nov. 8, nearly 70 cities and towns placed issues or candidates on the ballot. Municipal ballot issues reflect local concerns. Boulder voters approved a two-cents per ounce tax on sweetened beverages, backyard chickens were given the green light in Lochbuie, and voters in Walsenburg decided to disband the police department and contract with the sheriff for law enforcement. 

City council and town board elections were held in 16 municipalities. Among incumbents re-elected were Mayor Mike Waid of Parker, Mayor Jim Haskins of Hayden, and Mayor Markey Butler of Snowmass Village. Voters in Rocky Ford decided to remove three out of five city councilmembers in a recall election. 

One of the biggest issues facing municipalities across the state is the demand for better broadband Internet service. Colorado statutes require an affirmative vote of the people before municipalities can provide or partner with the private sector to provide broadband, a vital service to both commercial and residential consumers. To underscore the importance of this issue to the public - 65 municipalities have now approved broadband ballot issues - 19 of them in this election. Every city and town that has proposed municipal broadband has been given overwhelming support from voters. 

Passage of tax measures was a 50-50 proposition this fall. Among the questions before voters: Boulder approved a two-cent per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages; Dacono said yes to a lodging tax to support economic development program; Glenwood Springs extended an existing one cent sales tax; Grand Lake approved a one-cent sales tax increase for streets and sidewalks; Lafayette rejected a property tax increase to finance free ride RTD bus passes for residents; Pueblo rejected a sales tax for public safety and streets, but approved a sales tax for crime prevention and youth programs; Sterling said no to a lodging tax to finance a convention center; and Telluride gave the green light for a sales tax to support San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation. 

Public improvements will be built following the approval of bond issues. Louisville will build a $28.6 million recreation/senior center, while Glenwood Springs approved $54 million for streets and bridges, and Telluride approved $4.2 million for parking improvements and a parking garage. 

Marijuana issues continue to appear on many ballots. In the latest round, sales were approved in Englewood and Palisade and rejected in Del Norte, Federal Heights, Florence, Lochbuie, Palmer Lake, and Simla. Nine municipalities passed marijuana tax issues while four such measures failed.

Municipalities Matter: Colorado’s Affordable Housing Crisis

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Municipalities Matter

Colorado’s Affordable Housing Crisis

By Meghan Dollar, CML legislative & policy advocate, and Sam Mamet, CML executive director

House Sold

For the past five years Colorado has steadily grown in population. Many individuals move themselves or their families to our beautiful state for the weather and outdoor amenities. Who can blame them when Colorado is filled with so many terrific communities? As a result of this population increase, quality affordable housing is becoming harder and harder to find. 

According to the most recent vacancy and rent survey found through the Division of Housing, the average rent in Colorado is nearly $1,300 per month. That is substantial when compared to the average rent in 2011, which was under $800. The average vacancy rate in Colorado is currently 5 percent, which leaves little on the market when it comes to affordability. 

While some may attribute the lack of affordable housing as just a metro area issue, it is clear that housing is an issue statewide. Resort towns have long worked for more workforce housing in their communities, and rural areas face similar issues when they lack viable housing stock.  

CML has long worked at the state level to ensure the budget line item for affordable housing projects within the Division of Housing remains funded. Currently, in the governor’s proposed budget, the state has allocated $2 million to that line item. That will account for roughly 250 new affordable housing units in Colorado in 2017-2018. 

To create even more units, Colorado has reinvested in the state low-income housing tax credit. This program is operated through the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority (CHFA) and has, between 2014 and 2016, contributed to the development of nearly 2,000 units. 

We know this is a top priority for many of our members, so CML is hosting an affordable housing summit on Wednesday, Nov. 9. The all-day seminar will give municipal elected officials an overview of the affordable housing issue and opportunities to fund new affordable housing with speakers from the federal and state level, as well as from communities that have devised their own programs to pursue funding. We look forward to utilizing this opportunity to engage with municipal official on this extremely important topic. 

As we all know, housing is key to a thriving community. We know that municipal leaders across the state are very committed to this issue. We would love to hear from you on how you are addressing affordable housing.

Municipalities Matter - All Politics Remain Local

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Municipalities Matter

All Politics Remain Local

Solving problems is what municipal leaders do best, and that takes vision. On Nov. 8, voters in nearly 70 cities and towns across Colorado will decide the future of their own communities in municipal elections. They will be voting for candidates, as well as deciding the fate of dozens of ballot questions. 

City council and town board of trustee elections are scheduled in 16 Colorado cities and towns, and a recall election for five city councilmembers is slated in Rocky Ford. An additional 52 municipalities have scheduled a wide variety of ballot questions to be decided by voters. 

Broadband
Colorado statutes require an election to allow a municipality to provide broadband service or partner with the private sector to provide that service, and voters in 46 cities and towns already have approved municipal broadband. This fall, 18 municipalities have put the issue on the ballot: Arvada, Aspen, Basalt, Black Hawk, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Cripple Creek, Dolores, Golden, Green Mountain Falls, Hudson, Lafayette, New Castle, Palisade, Parachute, Silt, Superior, and Woodland Park. 

Marijuana
Del Norte, Englewood, Federal Heights, Florence, Lochbuie, Palisade, Palmer Lake, Pueblo, and Simla voters will decide whether to allow marijuana sales.

Marijuana taxes are being considered in Central City, Del Norte, Englewood, Florence, Palisade, Palmer Lake, Parachute, Pueblo, Sheridan, Silt, Thornton, and Yuma. 

Denver voters will decide whether to allow marijuana use in designated consumption areas. 

Term Limits
Two municipalities are exploring term limits: Boulder is asking whether to permit only three terms in a lifetime, while Parachute is asking whether to limit councilmembers to three consecutive terms. 

Tax and Bond Issues
Bond proposals for public improvements are on the ballot in several municipalities: 

 

  • Basalt - $3.1 million for park project 
  • Englewood - $27 million for police building 
  • Firestone - $10.5 million for police building 
  • Glenwood Springs - $54 million for streets and bridges 
  • Hayden - $4 million for streets 
  • Louisville - $28.6 million for recreation/senior center 
  • Telluride - $4.2 million for parking improvements/parking garage 

 

TABOR override ballot questions face voters in Castle Rock, Crested Butte, Fort Collins, Georgetown, Palmer Lake, and Williamsburg. 

Non-marijuana tax proposals will be considered in 33 cities and towns. A sampling: 

 

  • Boulder - a two-cent per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages 
  • Dacono - lodging tax to support economic development program 
  • Glenwood Springs - extend existing one cent sales tax 
  • Grand Lake - one cent sales tax increase for streets and sidewalks  
  • Louisville - mill levy increase to construct recreation/senior center and sales tax increase to fund center operation 
  • Lafayette - property tax to finance free ride RTD bus passes for Lafayette residents 
  • Pueblo - sales tax for crime prevention and youth programs 
  • Sterling - lodging tax to finance a convention center 
  • Telluride - sales tax to support San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation 

 

Other Issues
Other issues to be decided include: 

 

  • Edgewater - use of existing park land for the site of a new civic center complex  
  • Lochbuie - allow backyard chickens, ducks, pigeons, and doves 
  • Morrison - ban fuature rooftop patios in the Commercial Transition District 
  • Palmer Lake - allow publication of ordinances by title only 
  • Thornton - police officer collective bargaining 
  • Westminster - firefighter collective bargaining 

 

As ballots are being mailed out statewide this week, voting is not only important at the top of the ticket, but down ballot as well, especially as it relates to cities and towns.