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Thursday, October 17,2013

Election Guide 2013: Yes on Boulder Ballot Issue 2D

By Boulder Weekly Staff

City of Boulder Ballot Question 2D
Sales and Use Tax Extension

Vote Yes

Question 2D, the third of the three open space/transportation measures on the ballot, asks Boulder voters to continue an open space tax that expires at the end of 2019 — but begin using that money for transportation instead, and, eventually, the general fund. This question deals with the same open space tax addressed in Issue 2B, and continues that proposed 0.15 cent sales and use tax through the year 2039. But instead of being used for open space, during the first decade the money would go solely to transportation, through 2029. In the final 10 years, through 2039, the tax revenue would be unrestricted, to be used for city resources like fire, police, libraries, parks, recreation, human services and other general-fund purposes.

Proponents say the transportation funding is needed beyond the six years provided in Issue 2B because of the serious structural shortfall in the transportation budget, which was caused by the combination of rising materials costs and declining sales tax revenue. They say ample open space funding is provided in Question 2C, and that it’s important to make the funding unrestricted after 2029 because the city’s needs will likely have changed by then, and it’s bad policy to tie the city’s hands to using money for a specific purpose long-term.

Opponents counter that voters want to know specifically what a particular tax will be used for before approving it, not give government free rein to spend tax money willy-nilly. The PLAN-Boulder County board is urging a “no” vote on 2D, and co-chair Ray Bridge says it is “a little bit of a bait and switch” to continue a tax originally intended for open space and then use it for something else. But we think it’s not a bad idea to slowly rein in open space spending as the final properties on the city’s wish list are acquired (after all, there is only a limited amount of land left to buy) and use that money for purposes that are in worse financial shape, like transportation. While we agree that having a bunch of open-ended, unrestricted taxes that can be used — or misused — by the government for anything under the sun is not a good idea, we recommend voting yes on 2D.

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