Election 2018EnergyHot SheetTransportation

Municipal League takes positions on setbacks, transportation

Author: Joey Bunch - August 24, 2018 - Updated: August 24, 2018

Colorado oil and gas(Photo by Andy Colwell/Colorado Politics)

The Colorado Municipal League has staked out the November ballot with a series of position papers. CML supports a sales tax for transportation, but not an opposing measure to require the legislature to fund transportation without raising taxes.

The 95-year-old league, which represents 270 Colorado municipalities, is opposed to both measures related to the oil and gas industry. Initiative 97 would impose a 2,500-foot setback for oil and gas operations from homes, schools and businesses, which the industry and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis say amounts to a ban.

But CML also opposed Initiative 108, which would force those who impose regulations to compensate those who lose the right to make money off the property.

“The worst of the lot this November is No. 108,” said Sam Mamet, the long-time and highly respected executive director of the Colorado Municipal League. “It is devious, dangerous and disingenuous.”

He said the fight between activists and industries shouldn’t be ensconced into the state constitution by voters. The unintended consequences could be serious. Mamet said taxpayers will get stuck in the middle, paying the bills.

“Words matter, especially when they are in the state constitution,” he said. “And in this case, no one knows what these words really mean.”

“Settling old scores in the constitution is hardly a way to make good public policy.”

These are the position summaries approved by the CML Board of Directors:

Takings (Initiative 108): Oppose

This suggested change to the Colorado Constitution would expose both the state and all local governments to untold legal exposure with unclear language referring to government regulations or actions which would “reduce” the “fair market value” of private property and subject taxpayers to “just compensation” to a private property owner. All types of ordinances and policies at the municipal level would be affected, like code enforcement, land use and zoning, licensing, and redevelopment. Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell shares, “This measure places words in our state constitution that are not clear. Both the state and taxpayers in cities like my own will be subject to frivolous lawsuits. As both a mayor and CML president, I am strongly opposed and will be voting no.”

Gov. Hickenlooper has already publicly voiced his opposition to the measure, and a growing number of organizations are as well, including Club 20, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation. Additionally, the Grand Junction Sentinel has editorialized against #108.  Download the policy paper by clicking here.

Setbacks (Initiative 97): Oppose

As a change to state law, a 2,500-foot oil and gas production setback would be established from certain areas within a community. The League is concerned with the preemptive nature of the measure relative to the flexibility of local governments to negotiate setback policies with energy producers. The measure also conflicts with constitutional home rule authority for municipalities. It would seriously impact on-going production activity in this state, and this will cause a serious reduction in severance tax revenues accruing to a variety of important state programs, like water storage and school funding, as well as grant programs available to cities and towns. The impact on the state’s economy will be significant as well. However well-intended, the measure goes too far. Download the policy paper by clicking here.

Transportation Sales Tax (Initiative 153): Support

This proposed state law would increase the state sales rate and earmark the revenue for a variety of CDOT projects, allow for bonding, provide additional funding for local transit and other multi-modal needs through a CDOT-administered grant program, and most importantly share a significant portion of this new revenue with counties and municipalities. A recent analysis conducted by CML indicates at least a $3.75 billion shortfall in funding needs at the city and town level. Passage of this measure would go a long way towards addressing this critical infrastructure problem facing Colorado at the state and local level. Download the policy paper by clicking here.

Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (Initiative 167): Oppose

This proposed state law would authorize the state to float $3.5 billion in “revenue anticipation notes” to fund 66 CDOT-named projects in the measure. The League agrees with proponents who quite correctly argue that the state has not done enough to prioritize transportation funding as a key component of the general fund budget. However, we are quite concerned that because there is no funding stream identified (as in #153) to pay off the notes, funding cuts in the state budget will have to occur, and those likely will come from state-administered grants and loans available to cities and towns. Furthermore, there is no guarantee if any of the named projects will even get funded. Finally, there is no share back with counties and municipalities.  Download the policy paper by clicking here.

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.