Metro North cities tout transportation sales tax

City officials say Proposition 110 can help solve transportation crisis

Posted 10/2/18

Representatives from four Metro North cities spoke out in favor of a proposed sales tax for transportation measure on November’s statewide ballot. “There is a lot of need for it, and this will …

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Metro North cities tout transportation sales tax

City officials say Proposition 110 can help solve transportation crisis

Posted

Representatives from four Metro North cities spoke out in favor of a proposed sales tax for transportation measure on November’s statewide ballot.

“There is a lot of need for it, and this will really help fill that need from a local perspective,” Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams said at a Sept. 25 press conference.

Williams joined Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison, Broomfield City Councilor Kevin Kreegar and Northglenn City Councilor Julie Duran Mullica at an event sponsored by the Metro North Chamber of Commerce and Smart Commute Metro North.

The proposal, Williams said, would let local governments catch up on maintenance for their roads and infrastructure.

“Currently, what we do to take care of our transportation needs is to take money out of our general fund,” she said. “When we get money like this, dedicated to transportation, we can take the money we are currently spending and commit it to something else in the city. We always have unmet needs because we don’t have unlimited funds.”

Proposition 110 is one of two transportation-related questions on November’s ballot. A second, Proposition 109, would issue $3.5 billion in bonds that would be paid back from the state’s regular general fund budget.

Proposition 110 would create a 0.62 cent sales tax for 20 years, raising an estimated $767 million in the first year and $18 billion over 20 years. That money would be divided up between state and local projects. According to the proposition, 45 percent would go to fix state highways, paying for roughly $7 billion of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $9 billion backlog of projects.

Another 15 percent would be devoted to transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects. That would be about $3 billion to help complete the light-rail network around the Front Range and could help pay for city-level projects, Atchison said.

“It allows the cities and counties to apply for that money and make better methods and means of transportation,” he said. “We are looking at that to mean everything from pedestrian to bicycle to hikers to rail.”

But the four cities were most interested the remaining 40 percent, about $8 billion that would go to Colorado’s local governments, half to cities and towns and half to counties, to fix local roads.

In Westminster, Atchison said, it would amount to about $1.4 million per year for the 20-year life of the sales tax. It’s money the city currently spends on road repairs that could go other services.

“We must have investment in transportation,” Atchison said. “This will have an impact on the growth of Colorado and it is important that we maintain the ability to do commerce here and to move people. Without a revenue stream that we can count on, on an annual basis, we have no opportunity to fix them.”

Broomfield’s Kreegar said it’s a lot of money for projects that will cost individuals very little, about 6 cents on every $10 spent. He said the new tax amounted to a rounding error, something most people won’t notice.

“This is a way to have many, many people pitch in relatively small amounts that are going to add up to a substantial amount of money,” Kreegar said. “This is a way to solve one of our most critical needs in the state, something that has become a crisis level, with a very small contribution.”

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