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July 29, 2016

Boulder County Commissioners refer two measures to the November 2016 ballot

The County Commissioners approved placing questions on the November 2016 ballot that ask for an extension of an existing open space tax to fund sustainability and open space programs.

Boulder County, Colo. - At a public hearing today (recorded video), the Boulder County Commissioners approved ballot language for two measures to appear on the November 2016 ballot that would extend an existing 0.25% countywide open space sales and use tax for the purpose of continuing open space programs and funding countywide sustainability initiatives.

A sales tax extension of 0.125% (or, 12.5 cents collected for every $100 spent) for each of the two initiatives - if approved by voters by November - would provide a consistent funding source for: 1) county open space maintenance, acquisition, restoration, trails, and other programs, and 2) sustainability initiatives within Boulder County communities.

“We are pleased to have an opportunity to address the long term funding needs for key sustainability and open space programs and strategies that are widely supported by residents and municipalities within Boulder County,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Elise Jones. “It is especially nice to be able to refer these measures to the ballot without asking for any new taxes from residents to support them.”

Open Space

The 0.25% countywide open space sales and use tax was the first sales tax approved by Boulder County voters for open space purposes. The measure was approved in 1993 for a 15-year period and was extended in 1999 to expire on December 31, 2019. The proceeds from this tax have been used to purchase the majority of land the county has acquired as open space in the years since 1993.

As the county looks ahead to ongoing and potential county open space needs, county officials have said that they anticipate that the county’s remaining open space acquisition and conservation goals and the ongoing management and maintenance of open space lands may be achieved through continued funding from the extension of one-half (0.125%) of the existing 0.25% countywide open space sales and use tax (in combination with other open space sales tax measures and additional sources of funding for the program).

Additionally, staff presented examples at the public hearing of how revenues from the extended sales tax could be applied to helping complete additional environmental restoration projects, build new trails on open space, and purchase easements for and construct trail connections that lead to greater public access to open space.


As part
of their comments at the public hearing, the Boulder County Commissioners expressed
their long held priority for making sustainability a guiding principle for the
county and referenced multiple surveys that show overwhelming support and commitment
to environmental sustainability from
Boulder County

During the staff presentation, sustainability staff
stated that the request for a stable funding source was triggered by significant
cutbacks in federal funding for Boulder County’s low-income home weatherization
program and EnergySmart, a nationally recognized energy efficiency service for
all businesses and residents in Boulder County. In addition, they said stakeholders and residents have repeatedly requested expanded county funding
of other sustainability programs and infrastructure addressing zero waste,
local agriculture, water conservation, and climate mitigation.

If a Sustainability Tax is approved by voters this fall, specific projects and programs identified for funding through this tax would first be solicited for public input and feedback, and then approved through the county’s annual appropriations process.


The Board of County Commissioners will hold another public hearing to hear requests by outside parties
to refer additional ballot measures to the November 2016 ballot. That hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Aug. 4 in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room.