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CML Newsletter
April 24, 2020

By Melissa Mata


On April 7, clerks in approximately 100 Colorado municipalities executed their carefully crafted plans to keep voters and election judges safe while ensuring that municipal elections could occur as scheduled. In addition to selecting their city council members and trustees, voters in more than 40 cities and towns also had tax issues or other questions on the ballot. 

Tax and bond issues 

Sales tax questions passed in: 

• Center — for downtown revitalization, capital improvements, and public safety;  

• Creede — for capital improvements;  

• Crestone — for water and sewer operational expenses;  

• Evans — for streets;  

• Johnstown — for streets and transportation-related projects;  

• Limon — for capital improvements;  

• Silver Cliff — for streets and alleyways; 

• Westcliffe — for capital improvements; 

• Wiley — for general operating expenses. 

Sales tax questions were defeated in: 

• Burlington — for capital improvements;  

• Grover — for the general fund;  

• Platteville — for economic development. 

Firestone received authorization to expand the purposes for which a sales tax was approved in 2017, to include construction, operation, and maintenance of town facilities beyond the police and municipal court facility. 

Tobacco tax questions were approved in Carbondale, Eagle, and Red Cliff. 

Both of Pitkin's requested property tax questions, the first to fund streets and the second for the town hall fund, failed. 

A lodging tax was approved in Fruita, while lodging tax questions failed in Mead and Yuma. 

Nederland voters approved a tax on short-term rentals. Revenue will be used for health and human services and law enforcement. 

Creede voters approved up to $1 million in debt authority, and Hugo voters approved up to $3.6 million in debt authority, for improvements to their respective wastewater treatment facilities. 

Revenue retention 

Berthoud received permission to retain excess revenue collected by a previously approved parks and recreation sales tax. Akron received permission to waive the statutory 5.5% property tax limitation. 

Governance 

Eagle voters adopted the home rule charter drafted by its home rule charter commission, becoming the 103rd home rule municipality in Colorado. Severance voters said yes to an advisory question concerning whether the town should initiate the process to become a home rule municipality. 

Pitkin voters chose to reduce the number of trustees on the town board from six to four, while Ault voters elected not to do so. Montezuma voters passed a question eliminating term limits for local elected officials. 

Recalls in Elizabeth, Idaho Springs, and Wiggins failed, while the recall of a trustee passed in Ordway.

Broadband 

Frederick, Johnstown, and Monument each received approval to provide broadband service or partner with the private sector to provide that service. This election brings the total number of municipalities opting out of S.B. 05-152 to 112. 

Marijuana

Retail and medical marijuana questions were on the ballot in: 

• Dolores — voters approved stores and dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing and testing, and approved a marijuana occupation tax and an excise tax; 

• Kremmling — voters rejected stores and dispensaries, and rejected a marijuana sales tax; 

• Norwood — voters approved stores and dispensaries, manufacturing and testing, and approved an excise tax and a sales tax on retail marijuana; 

• Pierce — voters rejected medical and retail marijuana stores and dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing and testing; 

• Platteville — voters rejected stores and dispensaries, cultivation and manufacturing, and rejected a marijuana sales tax; 

• Severance — voters rejected stores and dispensaries, manufacturing and testing, and approved a retail marijuana sales tax. 

A marijuana question on the ballot in Olney Springs failed with a tie vote. 

Sedgwick voters passed a question clarifying its 2016 marijuana excise tax ordinance's language, without any change in the tax rate. In separate questions, Sedgwick voters also approved a retail sales tax to replace the existing occupation tax and an occupation tax on wholesale transactions. 

Publication requirements 

To save money on publication costs, Lyons and Palisade voters granted authorization to no longer publish the bills list or contracts awarded, while Lyons and Keenesburg voters also granted permission to publish ordinances by title rather than in full. 

Delta received approval to publish city documents on the city's website rather than in a newspaper. 

Election changes 

Keenesburg and Mead voters approved moving their regular town elections to November of even-numbered years. 

Burlington voters approved an update to the nominating petition period in their election code to align with state statutes. 

Charter amendments 

Johnstown and Woodland Park voters passed questions eliminating, clarifying, or otherwise updating various provisions of their home rule charter. 

Certain Woodland Park charter amendments did not pass, and these included providing a stipend for city council members, editing the charter to include gender-neutral language, removing penalties for violation of the charter, removing budget requirements from the charter to be instead codified by ordinances, and modifying the standard for citizens initiative petitions. 

Delta voters elected not to amend certain charter provisions relating to contracts, debt, and the electric light and power system. 

Glendale voters approved an amendment adjusting the city manager residency requirements. 

Other issues 

Other issues included: 

• Dolores — rejected the operation of off-highway vehicles on designated public streets; 

• Estes Park — approved the sale of public property; 

• Lyons — rejected authorization for the town to enter into a contract to provide waste hauling services, and approved an ordinance requiring an election before entering into such a contract in the future; 

• Montrose — approved the granting a nonexclusive franchise to Black Hills Energy for natural gas distribution; 

• Rangely — approved continuing the fluoridation of the town's water. 

The Colorado Municipal League (CML) wishes to thank the city and town clerks for their extraordinary efforts in ensuring that April's elections were conducted safely and a further thank you to those who assisted CML staff in compiling this election data. 

CML provided COVID-19 guidelines to municipalities holding elections in April. To view these guidelines, visit www.cml.org/covid19 and look under election information. 

 

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