Medical marijuana tops municipal election questions

Next week’s elections represent an off-year for cities and towns, with very few having candidate elections. However, there are a number of local questions before municipal voters, according to the Colorado Municipal League.

The most popular issue is medical marijuana.

Twenty-six cities and towns have questions before local voters on whether to allow or to prohibit medical marijuana centers: Akron, Aurora, Broomfield, Castle Pines North, De Beque, Dinosaur, Elizabeth, Federal Heights, Fountain, Fraser, Granby, Hillrose, Hot Sulphur Springs, Jamestown, La Junta, Lake City, Lone Tree, Loveland, Minturn, Olathe, Otis, Ouray, Paonia (including a separate question on whether to allow a grow operation), Ramah, Sugar City, and Windsor.

New state law adopted during the last session of the General Assembly allows for these municipal votes.

Eight municipalities also have questions on the ballot dealing with marijuana taxation: De Beque, Fraser, Fruita, Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs, Mountain View, Paonia, and Pueblo.

Taxes
There are a number of questions dealing with taxes with lodging taxes leading the pack.

Aspen, Blue River, Boulder, Breckenridge, Craig, Cripple Creek, and Fountain have such questions up next month using the revenue generally for tourism and marketing promotion.

Sales tax increases for various capital improvements are before municipal voters in five communities: Blue River, Fort Collins (various public improvements), Greeley (streets), Limon (wellness facility and equipment), Milliken (streets).

Greeley voters also will be voting on whether to continue an expiring food sales tax. Voters in Northglenn (for capital improvements, including water and sewer upgrades) and Pueblo (for economic development programs) will decide to continue expiring city sales taxes.

Related to sales taxes are use taxes.

In Blue River, Louisville, and Minturn local voters will decide on adopting such taxes.

Voters in Carbondale (streets), Mountain View (police protection), and Snowmass (two questions, one for transportation services and the other for an open space property acquisition) will decide the fate of property tax increases.

A utility occupation tax is up in Boulder to replace an expiring Xcel franchise.

Black Hawk’s voters will consider a square footage business tax.

Only one city in the state has a debt question before voters: Pueblo would like to issue a revenue bond using sales tax vendor fees for a $10 million restoration of Memorial Hall.

In terms of revenue retention votes, Colorado Springs is asking voters for one on property taxes for road and bridge improvements, and Fountain has two different questions up to cover economic development and baseball fields.

Miscellaneous
In Aspen, voters will consider eliminating instant runoff elections. Aspen will ask voters to allow for the publication of ordinances on the city’s Web site.

In Hot Sulphur Springs, Jamestown, and Mead the towns will ask voters for permission to publish ordinances by title only in order to save money.

Three cities have questions altering the structure of local government. Idaho Springs will ask whether the city clerk can be appointed rather than elected. In Colorado Springs and Wheat Ridge, voters will be given a chance to decide whether the city manager form of government should be replaced with the mayor-council system.

Currently, 171 of the state’s 271 municipalities are governed by the council-manager system, and only one, Denver, operates under the mayor-council system. Pueblo voters rejected such a change over a year ago.

Voters in Wheat Ridge will also decide whether to give the mayor a veto over certain council actions.

Castle Pines North voters will be asked to drop North from the newly incorporated city’s name. Additionally, that city’s voters will also decide whether or not to keep the urban renewal authority. In recent elections, Estes Park and Windsor voters decided to abolish their authorities.

Can police impound cars driven by unlicensed drivers? Lakewood’s voters will consider this proposal, similar to one considered in the recent past by Denver’s voters.

Boulder will be asking voters to consider an exception to that city’s height restriction ordinance for rooftop renewable energy devices.

Finally, it will be a first in Colorado, and perhaps the nation, if Denver’s voters approve the formation of a municipal extraterrestrial affairs commission.

(The above information was submitted by Sam Mamet, executive director of CML, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1923 that represents the interests of 264 cities and towns.)