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CML Newsletter
November 22, 2019

By Melissa Mata


On Nov. 5, voters in nearly 80 cities and towns across Colorado voted on a combined total of more than 100 municipal tax issues and other questions. Two-thirds of these municipalities also had candidate elections. The following results are unofficial and subject to change.

Tax and bond issues
Sales tax questions passed in:

  • Alamosa — for roads;
  • Frederick and Montrose — to fund 
    public safety; and
  • Monte Vista — to fund capital projects.
  • Unsuccessful sales tax questions included:
  • Center — for the general fund;
  • Fort Lupton — for culture, parks, and recreation;
  • Fountain — for roads;
  • Longmont — for a new recreation center with pool and ice rink, included request for $45.5 million in debt authority;
  • Loveland — one question to fund community improvement projects, and one question to fund a community recreation center;
  • Manitou Springs — to fund facility improvements and the arts, culture and heritage;
  • Mead — for roads, included a request for $21 million in debt authority; and
  • Westcliffe — for capital projects.

Tobacco tax questions passed in Crested Butte, Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Vail, while Boulder voters approved a tax on tobacco vaping products.

Several municipalities received approval for sales tax extensions for a variety of uses, including:

  • Boulder — for open space;
  • Colorado Springs, Longmont, and Rocky Ford — to fund transportation 
    system improvements;
  • Fort Lupton — for recreation facilities and park improvements;
  • Nucla — for the provision of medical services; and
  • Trinidad — to fund capital projects.

A property tax for emergency services was approved in Steamboat Springs. A property tax extension was approved in New Castle, for public safety and parks, while a property tax for public safety needs was defeated in Rockvale.

Rico voters elected to be included in the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), which entails adding both the property tax and the sales tax associated with inclusion in the authority. Rico’s request for up to $3 million in debt authority, with an associated property tax increase, to finance a wastewater treatment plant failed.

Basalt voters approved setting the mill levy at a rate that matches its most recent amount levied.

Mountain View voters defeated a tax on short-term rentals. Voters in Mt. Crested Butte and Telluride, whose question included authorization for up to $9.9 million in debt, approved a short term rental tax, in order to fund affordable housing programs.

Other tax questions included:

  • Black Hawk — an increase to the device 
    tax passed;
  • Fort Lupton — a lodging tax failed; and
  • Parker — an excise tax on new residential development passed.

Debt authority was approved by voters in:

  • Boulder — $10 million for a middle-income housing program;
  • Grand Junction — $70 million for transportation improvements;
  • Sterling — $37 million for wastewater system capital improvements; and
  • Telluride — $7.4 million for wastewater treatment plant capital improvements.

Revenue retention

  • Colorado Springs — approved retention of excess revenue from the 2018 fiscal year for parks and recreation improvements.
  • Aspen — approved retention of excess revenue from its 2017 tobacco tax.
  • Louisville — approved retention of all revenues from its 2016 sales and use tax increase to use for operating and maintenance expenses at its recreation center.
  • Manitou Springs — approved retention of excess revenue remaining in a fund for downtown public improvements.

This year’s tax questions followed a similar trend of voters saying yes to local TABOR questions more often than not. Historically, municipalities have passed a majority of the TABOR-related questions that have been asked, with a 61% approval rate of tax questions, 70% approval rate for debt questions, and 87% approval rate for revenue retention questions since voter approval was first required in 1993.

Sports betting

As stipulated by HB 19-1327, Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek requested authorization of sports betting, provided that sports betting is also concurrently authorized at the statewide election in Proposition DD. The three municipal questions passed.

Governance

Eagle voters approved the formation of a home rule charter commission, and selected their commission members.

Nucla voters defeated the measure asking to reduce the number of trustees from six to four. Iliff voters chose not to eliminate term limits for their elected officials, while Parker voters implemented a lifetime limit of four terms for their mayor and city council, and Mountain View voters approved a three-term limit for their mayor. 

Voters in Brighton elected to recall their mayor.

Broadband

Edgewater, Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Mead, Parker, and Rico received approval to provide or partner to provide broadband services. 

Marijuana

Mead voters said no to medical marijuana businesses and retail marijuana establishments. Center's and Loveland’s questions allowing cultivation, manufacturing, and testing in addition to sales were also defeated. Loveland voters also turned down a tax on marijuana sales.

Craig voters approved three marijuana questions: to allow retail sales; to allow cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and storage; and a tax on marijuana sales.

An initiated ordinance passed in Alamosa banning the outdoor growing of personal marijuana and overturning outdoor growing regulations previously adopted by the
city council.

Louisville voters opted to permit retail marijuana cultivation facilities within the city’s industrial zones, as well as the corresponding retail marijuana cultivation facility excise tax.

A retail marijuana sales tax also passed in Las Animas.

Publication requirements

To save money on publication costs, Cripple Creek and Rockvale received authorization to no longer publish the bills list or contracts awarded, while Williamsburg voters defeated a similar measure. Cripple Creek voters denied the request to publish ordinances by title rather than in full.

Election changes

Holyoke voters said yes to moving their regular elections to November of even-numbered years, and Craig received approval to move elections to November of odd-numbered years.

Lafayette voters accepted the two election changes on their ballot: to adjust initiative and referendum procedures, and to make changes to the city recall process, while also approving a change to the process to fill vacancies on the city council.

Charter amendments

Northglenn voters turned down the option to make language in their charter gender neutral.

The majority of Parker’s questions asking voters to eliminate, clarify or otherwise update various provisions of their home rule charter were approved, though one question did fail: to replace all references of the term “Town Administrator” with “Town Manager.”

Denver voters amended their charter to assign the management of arts and theater facilities to Denver Arts and Venues, to create a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, to make changes to fire department personnel, and to update the residency requirements for elected officials.

Voters in Trinidad elected to amend their charter to include the municipal landfill as an enterprise.

Other issues

Other issues included:

  • Delta – approved a natural gas franchise to Black Hills Energy.
  • Glendale – rejected the elimination of surety bond requirements for elected officials, as well as a second question to expand the radius within which the city manager must live.
  • Grand Junction – approved increasing leases in a business park to up to 99 years.
  • Lakewood – denied authorization to contract with waste haulers.
  • Longmont – rejected allowing leases of city property for up to 30 years.
  • Meeker – approved continuation of fluoridation of water.
  • Mountain View – approved amendment to the process for increasing compensation of the mayor.
  • Wheat Ridge – rejected a rezoning ordinance.

 

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