EducationElection 2018NewsTransportation

Colorado Counties Inc. takes positions on ballot measures

Author: Joey Bunch - October 3, 2018 - Updated: October 3, 2018

1200px-Million_Dollar_Highway_10_2006_09_13.jpg
transportationThe “Million Dollar Highway,” U.S. 550, traverses Red Mountain Pass to Ouray via Uncompahgre Gorge (Photo by Reinhard Schön, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Colorado’s counties have spoken, and there are questions, taxes and bureaucracy on the Nov. 6 ballot local leaders don’t like.

The state association Colorado Counties Inc. supports a proposed statewide sales tax increase for transportation, which would carve out a 20 percent share for counties (and another 20 percent for municipalities). Proposition 110, called Let’s Go, Colorado, would raise the tax by 0.62, or 21 percent, and divide the money between the state highway department and local governments, with 15 percent earmarked for multi-modal projects.

CCI members oppose a competing measure, Proposition 109, which would instruct the state legislature to borrow $3.5 billion solely for existing high-priority road and bridge projects. Called Fix Our Damn Roads, the measure would require lawmakers to find the roughly $260 million without raising taxes. Local governments and transit aren’t part of the proposal.

“On Proposition 109 Authorize Bonds for Highway Projects, counties argued that the measure commits up to $5.2 billion to repay $3.5 billion in bonds without creating a new source of revenue,” CCI said in explaining its positions. “This means that funding must be diverted from the state budget at the expense of other programs, which may include education, health care and routine transportation maintenance.”

County representatives also voted to:

  • Oppose Amendment 73, which would raise the corporate tax rate and income taxes on high earners to put $1.6 billion into K-12 education.
  • Oppose Amendment 74 to compensate owners when regulations reduce the market value of their property.
  • Oppose Proposition 112 to require 2,500-foot setbacks from oil and gas operations.

The counties said the school tax would complicate an “already complex property tax system,” and that it would create one property value for school districts and another for everything else.

“Amendment 73 will lead to confusion among taxpayers and complicate tax administration for local governments,” CCI stated.

Paying land owners for the loss of property values because of regulations would also be a bureaucratic mess “potential for far-reaching and costly consequences for taxpayers and governments,”  the organization members found.

The setbacks mandated by Proposition 112 also were a no-go with county officials, who said those setbacks would virtually eliminate oil and gas development on private land.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.