ELECTION 2017: Denver, El Paso County to decide on transportation bonds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/2/2017

Ballots in two of Colorado’s most populated areas will decide whether to aid transportation work.

Voters in Denver will decide whether to borrow money and pay it back with interest over time. The use of general obligation bonds does not require a tax increase.

Money to pay back the bond would come from property taxes. City officials say the tax rate would not increase if the bond is approved by voters.

The city describes Referred Question 2A as authorizing general obligation bonds to “restore, replace, and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city.”

Voters will decide this fall if the city can issue $937 million in bonds for more than 460 projects. The borrowing would be used for deferred maintenance and new work covered in seven separate questions.

Question 2A covers $431 million for transportation and mobility systems. The 69-project list is available here.

Specifically, $101 million would be dedicated to deferred maintenance citywide, including repaving, and major bridge rehabilitation. Another $55 million would be used for bus rapid transit, $30 million for sidewalk construction, and $18 million for bike lanes.

Other projects include improvements to the public safety system, library system, parks and recreation system, and public facilities system.

Passage would effectively continue to the decade-old Better Denver bond. The $550 million bond package has been used to fund capital improvements throughout the city.

The 10-year bond is slated to end soon.

El Paso County
Voters in El Paso County will separately decide on about $15 million in surplus revenues from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights revenue funds for transportation work.

About $6 million from the resolution would be devoted to widen Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock. The rest would be used for local road projects, disaster recovery projects, and other work that includes parks and trails.

The county located east of Colorado Springs reports a $200 million backlog of road and bridge projects.

Advocates say the I-25 project would help ease congestion along the 17-mile stretch of four-lane highway that creates a bottleneck between six-lane segments. The work to aid travel to and from Denver is estimated to cost up to $500 million.

Supporters add that the ballot question, which leaves them far short of the amount needed to complete the work, is merely a start.

The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority has proposed to allot $5 million annually for two years toward the I-25 project. The one-percent sales tax that funds the authority is estimated to raise $100 million this year.

If the resolution fails, property owners would get a rebate from TABOR surplus revenues on their property taxes.

Colorado residents not registered to vote can fill out this form and mail it to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Online registration also is available.

In addition, Colorado makes available same-day registration for residents who plan to head to the ballot box on Election Day.

This year, Election Day is on Nov. 7. In Colorado, ballots will go out beginning on Oct. 16.

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