THE STORY BEHIND DOUGLAS COUNTY 2019 BALLOT MEASURE 1A

THE STORY BEHIND DOUGLAS COUNTY 2019 BALLOT MEASURE 1A

 

On May 7, 2019, the Board of Douglas County Commissioner release the results of the 2019 Citizen Survey, conducted by Hill Research Consultants.  The results, published on the county’s website stated:

Acknowledging noted concerns about traffic congestion from the 2017 survey, the Board’s 2019 survey pursued opinion on proposals that would: invest more of our tax dollars in smart technologies that will help improve traffic flow (89% approve) and redirecting existing sales tax dollars to growth-related projects like roads and infrastructure (87% approve).

Among other key findings, 96% affirm the accuracy of the statement: Douglas County is a good place to raise a family; 83% affirm Douglas County has good County government; 80% are satisfied with County employee interactions; and 93% believe that Douglas County is a friendly place.  Regarding voter opinion on public safety, 98% agree Douglas County is a safe place to live & work; and 89% express satisfaction with law enforcement by the Sheriff’s Office.

What the website failed to report was the results of Question #13:

Ensuring conditions that provide public safety & security

2010

2012

2014

2017

2019

Spend more money

30

33

28

46

50

Much more

7

7

7

12

14

Somewhat more

22

25

21

33

35

Same Amount

60

60

60

51

46

Less

6

5

8

3

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the following conclusions can be reached:

1)     Douglas County residents have and extremely high satisfaction rate with the DCSO

2)     Over the past 10 year, citizens have been increasingly requesting that MORE funds be spent on Public Safety.

3)     The question about re-directing the county sales tax did NOT give the respondents the choice as to from WHERE would those funds be redirected! The question was intentional vague so as to give the answers any meaning the observer wishes to give it.

4)     As the survey clearly stated the public wants MORE funds to be directed to Public Safety, the Commissioners public statement that Ballot Measure 1A was supported by this survey is a FALSE STATEMENT.

 

It is for this reason that PSAC believes a new citizen survey should be commissioned – one where the questions provide the respondent with the capacity to give answers regarding the % division of the Douglas County Sales Tax between Public Safety and other priorities.

 

This survey should include an education portion – educating the public as to the true division of responsibility for the construction, repair and maintenance of public roads:

a.      Who is financially responsible for Federal Interstates & Federal Highways?

b.     Who is financially responsible for State Highways?

c.      Who is financially responsible for County Highways & Roads?

d.     Who is financially responsible for roads and streets in unincorporated Highlands Ranch?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2019, the voters of Colorado voted on state-wide ballot proposition on taxes and roads:

 

PROPOSITION CC: Retain State Government Revenue

 

Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education and roads, bridges, and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law, with an annual independent audit to show how the retained revenues are spent?

 

·       A “yes” vote on Proposition CC changes state law and means the state can keep all of the money it collects over its revenue limit to spend on education and transportation.

·       A “no” vote on Proposition CC means that any money the state collects over its revenue limit must be refunded to taxpayers, as required under current law

·       Results:  46.34% Yes, 53.66% No

 

In 2018, Colorado voters had two ballot propositions on taxes and road:

 

Proposition 109    “Fix Our Damn Roads” = Transportation issues        Authorizes bonds for transportation projects without raising taxes – A ballot Initiative created by the Colorado Independence Institute

·       A “yes” vote supported the initiative to authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects including bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repairs, and require that the state repay the debt from the general fund without raising taxes.

·       A “no” vote opposed the initiative to authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects and require that the state repay the debt from the general fund without raising taxes.

·       RESULTS:  39.28% Yes, 60.72% No

Who was behind the campaigns surrounding Proposition 109?

Two committees were registered to support Proposition 109:

o   Fix Our Damn Road

o   No on 110, Yes on 109

Together, the committees had raised $778,595 and had spent $730,243.[5]

 

Four committees were registered to oppose Proposition 109:

o   Coloradans For Coloradans

o   Coloradans for a Responsible Future

o   Win the Fourth Colorado Issue Committee

o   State Ballot Issue Committee

Together, they had raised $7.41 million and had spent $7.37 million.

 

 

Proposition 110      "Let’s Go Colorado" Transportation Bond and Sales Tax Increase Initiative,   Authorizes bonds for transportation projects and raises taxes to repay the debt

 

·       A yes vote supported the initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects, establish the Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes Citizen Oversight Committee, and raise the state sales tax rate by 0.62 percent from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039.

·       A no vote opposed the initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects, establish the Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes Citizen Oversight Committee, and raise the state sales tax rate by 0.62 percent from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039.

·       RESULTS:  40.61% Yes, 59.39% No

 

In 2019, Douglas County voters also had a ballot proposal on taxes and roads:

 

Ballot Issue 1A: Douglas County Sales Tax Renewal and Revenue Allocation for Transportation Approved

 

On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the County Commissioners adopted Resolution R-019-061. There were two versions offered -=

 

Attached are two separate versions of a draft resolution to amend the Douglas County Justice Center Sales and Use Tax resolution.  Both versions create 2 separate ballot questions for the November 2019 general election ballot.  The first ballot question for both versions would extend an expiring portion of the tax, modify the uses of the extended portion to allow use for transportation infrastructure, and transfer ten million dollars of fund balance from the Justice Center Fund for transportation infrastructure.  The second ballot question seeks voter approval to issue bonds for transportation infrastructure.  These ballot questions differ in the two versions as one is based on 10 years of bonds and the other is based on 15 years.  The 10 year version would seek voter approval for seventy one million dollars ($71,000,000) in bonds and the 15 year version would seek voter approval for ninety six million dollars ($96,000,000) in bonds.  The Board should consider whether it wishes to approve either version of this resolution which would send 2 questions to Douglas County voters for the November 2019 general election ballot.

 

The version that was approved on 06/11/2019 was later rescinded and replaced by Resolution R-019-094 proposed by Commissioner Lora Thomas on September 3, 2019[1], which also grabbed another 0.05% from the Justice Center Sales Tax:

 

WITHOUT RAISING ADDITIONAL TAXES, SHALL THAT CERTAIN EXISTING PORTION OF THE DOUGLAS COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER SALES AND USE TAX OF THIRTEEN HUNDREDTHS OF ONE CENT (.13%) PER DOLLAR OF TAXABLE TRANSACTIONS CURRENTLY SCHEDULED TO EXPIRE ON DECEMBER 31, 2020 BE EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2035 AND SHALL THAT SAME PORTION TOGETHER WITH AN ADDITIONAL FIVE HUNDREDTHS OF ONE CENT (.05%) PER DOLLAR OF TAXABLE TRANSACTIONS PORTION OF THE DOUGLAS COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER SALES AND USE TAX, FOR AN AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF EIGHTEEN HUNDREDTHS OF ONE CENT (.18%) PER DOLLAR OF TAXABLE TRANSACTIONS, BE REALLOCATED FOR THE PROVISION OF NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE AND RELATED EXPENSES TO INCLUDE FOR THE ALLEVIATION OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2020, ALL TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS SET FORTH IN COUNTY RESOLUTION R995-099, AS AMENDED; AND SHALL THE PROCEEDS OF SUCH TAXES, AND INVESTMENT INCOME THEREON, CONSTITUTE VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGES AND BE COLLECTED AND SPENT BY THE COUNTY WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY SPENDING, REVENUERAISING, OR OTHER LIMITATION CONTAINED WITHIN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER LAW, AND WITHOUT LIMITING IN ANY YEAR THE AMOUNT OF OTHER REVENUES THAT MAY BE COLLECTED AND SPENT BY THE COUNTY?

 

·       A yes vote was a vote in favor of extending for 15 years a sales tax rate of 0.13% and allocating the revenue in addition to revenue from 0.05% in sales taxes to transportation infrastructure.

·       A no vote was a vote against extending and allocating revenue from a portion of the county sales tax to transportation, thereby allowing a sales tax rate of 0.13% to expire in December 2020.

 

On June 18, 2019, a political issues committee, calling themselves “Better Roads 4 Douglas County”, was registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Sean Tonner, the Managing Partner – The Fulcrum Group, a political consulting, campaign management, and strategic media relations company. It’s listed purpose was “Douglas County Transportation”. According to the TRACER Report, on June 20th, the committee submitted a change of purpose to the SoS office, stating “The Douglas County Commissioners . . .are placing Resolution 019-065 on the November 2019 ballot”. However, the resolution number listed was erroneous, as R-019-065 amended the Douglas County Grading Erosion Sediment Control (GESR) Manel. On 06/24/20, the committee submitted another amendment, listing its purpose as “The Douglas County Commissioners . . .are placing Resolution 019-065 on the November 2019 ballot, Better Roads is in support.”

So within one week of R-019-061 being passed by the Douglas County Commissioners, a political consulting firm had set up the legal framework for a political campaign. Political campaigns require funding, and this is where TRACER reports they received their funding:

·       Sterling Ranch Development, 8155 Pinery River Ave. #200 Littleton, $20,000 – 08/07/2019

·       Sterling Ranch Development, 8155 Pinery River Ave. #200 Littleton, $60,000.00 10/02/2019

·       Colorado Construction Industry Coalition, Denver – $5,000.00 – 10/07/2019

·       ARS Sand & Gravel Co., Wheatridge – $5,000.00 -10/07/2019

·       Wagner Equipment Company, Aurora – $2,500.00 – 10/15/2019

·       MDC Holdings Inc., 4350 S. Monaco St., Denver – $20,000.00 – 10/15/2019

·       SWQ LLC, 5750 DTC Pkwy, Suite 115, Greenwood Village CO – $5,000 10/16/2019

·       Bemas Construction, 80 Inverness Dr East, Englewood CO -$5,000 – 10/22/2019

·       JR Engineering, 7200 S. Alton Way, #C400, Centennial CO $500.00 – 10/22/2019

·       Brannan Sand and Gravel Company, 2500 E. Brannan Way, Denver $5,000 – 10/26/2019

·       Kiewit Infrastructure, 160 Inverness Dr #110, Englewood Co -$2,500 – 10/31/2019

·       American West Construction, 275 E. 54th Ave., Denver CO – $500.00

·       Lightning Ventures Inc., 1750 Tomah Rd., Larkspur CO – $2,500.00 – 11/11/2019

·       Alpha Milling Company, 6015 W. 56th Ave., Arvada CO – $500.00 – 12/10/2019

GRAND TOTAL = $134,000.00

The local media failed to provide a balanced perspective of 1A – never providing the opposition’s position.[2]

 

 

RESULTS OF 2019 BALLOT MEASURE 1A

Registered Voters

253,461

 

100%

Total Ballots Cast

108,557

100%

42.83%

Total Votes Cast on 1A

105,528

97.21%

41.63%

Undervotes

3,029

2.79%

1.2%

YES

55,176

52.29%

21.77%

NO

50,352

47.71%

19.87%



[1] At their Sept. 3 Special Business Meeting the Board unanimously adopted a resolution 19-094 that will ask Douglas County voters to annually redirect approximately $12 million of existing revenue from the Justice Center Fund to countywide transportation improvements, without compromising public safety.

https://www.douglas.co.us/county-commissioners-advance-transportation-funding-question-to-november-2019-ballot/

 

[2] Road measure appears on way to passing in Douglas County, by Elliott Wenzler, Highlands Ranch Herald, 11/05/2019 https://highlandsranchherald.net/stories/roads-measure-appears-on-way-to-passing-in-douglas-county,289030