There’s an easy way to stretch dollars to purchase equipment, complete a project or make improvements to a Sou...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Business Leaders for Responsible Government section of the South Metr...
January 6, 2020 STUDY SESSION Council developing a Communication and Conduct “Creed,” In progress. To enlist...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial City Council Monday night approved a 2020 mill levy, and a...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Councilwoman Candace Moon told the Centennial City Council, during th...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER In the days following the Nov. 5 election, questions were raised about so...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER When the numbers were all tallied, 1,484,523 Coloradans voted on the ques...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The state’s outdoor recreation office (ORC) was created by former Colorad...
BY BOB BAKERFIRE CHIEF, SOUTH METRO FIRE RESCUE It’s been roughly 10 months since South Metro Fire Rescue and...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Some residents of the South Metro Fire Rescue District will receive tax...
There’s an easy way to stretch dollars to purchase equipment, complete a project or make improvements to a South Suburban Parks and Recreation (SSPR) park or property. The Matching Gifts Program encourages neighborhoods, homeowner associations, sports groups, businesses and other organizations to partner with SSPR in the continuing development and improvement of SSPR parks, facilities and programs.
The program allows your funds to be matched with SSPR funds to leverage dollars for a project or purchase of equipment. SSPR’s Matching Gifts Program also creates the opportunity for interested groups and individuals to provide a meaningful gift to the community.
Requests for funding must be in writing and meet certain requirements. Applications requesting less than $2,000 are highly recommended. Applications for the Matching Gifts Program are due by Friday, March 6, 2020.
SSPR’s Board of Directors has allocated up to $15,000 to the Matching Gifts Program for 2020. All projects approved must be completed in 2020. Examples of eligible projects include development or improvements to playgrounds; general park improvements, e.g., benches, drinking fountains; special equipment to support group activities, e.g., scoreboards, athletic equipment; and beautification projects, e.g., trees, flower and shrub beds and more.
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
The Business Leaders for Responsible Government section of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce held an early morning meeting at the Englewood Civic Center at 1000 Englewood Parkway on Jan. 15 to hear from area state legislators about the issues they expect the legislature to tackle during the 120-day 2020 session that opened on Jan. 4. Kathy Turley, Centennial city council member and Chamber board member, introduced the panel.
District 27 Republican Sen. Jack Tate, who chose not to run for re-election when his term ends in November, told the 40 in attendance that he hopes to lead a repeal of the 1982 Gallagher Amendment that “arbitrarily sets the ratio of how much property tax revenue comes from residential property and how much comes from non-residential property.” He explained that, because of the Gallagher amendment, in those parts of the state that 1) have less commercial property than the state average, and 2) whose residential property has appreciated less than the state average, while population has increased, there are more citizens who must be served while funding for emergency and other local government services has decreased.
He also said that the school finance formula went from a uniform system to an idiosyncratic system where the state subsidy for schools in Aspen exceeds that of Pueblo, so it must be addressed but doing so is complex and must be approached carefully.
Although it didn’t come up at the meeting, Tate is a prime sponsor of SB20-100, introduced Jan. 14, to repeal the death penalty in Colorado for “offenses charged on or after July 1, 2020.”
Sen. Jeff Bridges, a Democrat who represents district 26, said, “This coming session will look a lot like last session where most bills that passed had bi-partisan support because they were amended during the process to a reasonable place where folks could agree.”
On paid family leave, an issue left over from 2019 and certain to be on this year’s agenda, Bridges said, “the number one question is whether it should be a government program or a government mandate that employers must pay for?” On the subject of health care, he pointed out that, “Passing a reinsurance bill last year had a positive impact on health care costs.”
District four Republican Sen. Jim Smallwood agreed with Bridges that most bills passed are bipartisan “except for paid family leave and a government takeover of health care.” He explained, “You’re going to see a lot more government involvement in health care this session.” He had a different view of the 2019 reinsurance bill, saying, “I was against the reinsurance bill. It was funded by taking $30 million out of affordable housing last year that was already funded and we will do so again this year.” He agreed that health insurance premiums went down and noted that it was “a huge win for Coloradans on the western and eastern plains.”
Rep. Kim Ransom, a Republican who represents district 44, is one of six legislators on the all-important Joint Budget Committee (JBC) that writes the state’s annual budget. She said, “A lot of bills passed last year had costs attached that we at the JBC have to figure out how to pay for. Reinsurance did lower health insurance costs for some but the overall health care cost to the state is higher and now the governor wants to add free pre-school after adding free full-day kindergarten last year.”
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Centennial City Council Monday night approved a 2020 mill levy, and also authorized amendments to the 2019 budget, with the nine-member body agreeing unanimously to all actions taken during the meeting.
City staff explained that all real property is appraised every other year, in odd-numbered years, including 2019. Appraisals of residential properties are up 16 percent, with commercial properties increasing at the rate of 10.5 percent since the appraisals in 2017.
The increases in property values will cause an additional $12.4 million to come into the city’s coffers during 2020, staff stated.
City Manager Matt Sturgeon stated that certain Intergovernmental Agreements for calendar year 2020 will allow open space to be preserved utilizing grant funds. Additionally, the council has approved a budget containing $7,500,000 in expenditures for improvements to roads and streets. There also was approval for $950,000 to build sidewalks on South University Boulevard.
Carrie Penaloza, who is retiring from her District 2 council post at the end of 2019, thanked the city staff for going through the various expenditures, stating that she realized the expenditures used to be on the agenda as items that would not be discussed. She said it was helpful to have some explanation and discussion. Penaloza expeditiously ran most of the meeting in the absence of the mayor.
Councilwoman Candace Moon said she would like the streets that will be repaired to be listed, for the information of the neighborhoods, as well as for the council members.
Sturgeon said the street repair funds will be utilized for both asphalt and concrete roadways. He also said that there will be a number of contractors from “throughout the city” working on the various projects.
In his report to the council, Sturgeon informed them that Chief Troy Jackson, South Metro Fire District, died of a rare type of cancer. Councilman Ron Weidmann asked whether the city would fly its flags at half mast, to honor Jackson. Sturgeon said he is in the process of trying to find out whether it is permitted for the city to lower the flags to half mast. State and county governments will lower their flags to half mast, he said.
Councilwoman Candace Moon told the Centennial City Council, during the time dedicated to reports of council members, that she attended a meeting of the Tri-County Health Department and learned valuable information about air quality and also immunizations.
Moon, who recently won re-election in a close battle with Ron Phelps, said the meeting of Tri-County Health Department was interesting and informational. In other reports, Michael Sutherland reported that he attended the Recovery Court graduation of the 18th Judicial District, which serves Centennial as well as other areas of Arapahoe County. Sutherland said the graduation was “inspiring.” Councilwoman Marlo Alston agreed, stating that the program helps offenders get back into a crime-free life. Alston said the program is a “great thing.”
Councilman Ron Weidmann, who was attending his final meeting after being appointed by the council to serve out the mayor’s term when she was elected mayor two years ago, said he had really enjoyed serving, but is ready to go back to being “at home” with his wife, Carol. “I’m glad I’m moving on,” he stated.
Also moving on and leaving the council are Councilwoman Carrie Penaloza and Councilman Ken Lucas.
In the days following the Nov. 5 election, questions were raised about some of the actions of Joan Lopez, who was elected county clerk last year in a Democratic wave in Arapahoe County.
Arapahoe County Republicans, through their chair Dorothy Gottlieb, have called on Lopez to “resign immediately” in order to “restore the faith of Arapahoe County voters in the integrity, credibility, and fairness of the election process,” as a result of issues they have with how this election was run.
.A flyer that was distributed prior to the election by the clerk’s office encouraging residents to register and vote was titled, “VOTE. Your vote is your voice.” It contained the statement, “Registered? Great! Vote early and vote often. Check the reverse side for important dates regarding upcoming elections.” The phrase, “vote early and vote often,” is a tongue-in-cheek political motto of Chicago (where I grew up). It sarcastically refers to the reputation of illegal activity in that city decades ago that supposedly allowed people to vote more than once. No one knows for sure if it ever really happened.
In response to our question about what the clerk’s office actually intended in using that turn of phrase, Winna MacLaren, the public information officer, told us that it was she who created the flyer and that she “was unaware the phrase had negative associations. The intention was to encourage voters to vote in all of the upcoming elections listed on the flyer and to do so prior to each Election Day, if possible.” Lopez has previously apologized for the error, noting that her staff was young.
On the issue of delays in counting votes, for which the clerk’s office was also criticized, MacLaren told us that of the total 163.594 ballots received in Arapahoe County, 33,738 or 21 percent were received on November 4, the day before the election, and 61,150 or 37 percent were received on election day, November 5. The ballots received on those two days constituted 58 percent of the total, which explains why preliminary vote totals available on the night of the election were subsequently revised.
When the numbers were all tallied, 1,484,523 Coloradans voted on the question, “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?” 54 percent of those who cast a vote said no, compared to 46 percent who approved.
That is the opposite of what Magellan Strategies, a highly respected local Republican pollster, reported after conducting a scientific poll in August. Back then, they said that 54 percent of those polled planned to vote yes, 30 percent were no’s, and 15 percent were undecided. That means that all the undecideds in August voted no and one-sixth of those who planned to vote yes changed to no’s.
According to published reports, Referendum CC proponents raised $4.45 million in contributions (all private) and spent $4.12 million. Opponents reported donations of $1.75 million and expenditures of $1.68 million. One never knows what affects voters, but there was a very clever cartoon television ad by opponents of the plan, that ran frequently in the days leading up to the election. It had a dog representing “pet projects” portrayed as eating up the unrefunded extra tax money instead of using it for education and transportation, as promised.
Magellan’s David Flaherty points out that the key to the loss lies with unaffiliated voters, who are unpredictable, compared to major party members who generally follow their party’s lead. Like many issues, this one found most Democrats on one side (yes) and most Republicans on the other (no).
As of Nov. 1, active Colorado voters affiliated with the two major parties combined, comprised only 58 percent of the electorate (28 percent are Republicans, 30 percent are Democrats), while 40 percent of all active voters were unaffiliated with either of the two major parties. Historically, unaffiliated voters have been less apt to participate in off-year elections like this one. Compared to the off-year election held in 2015, fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats voted this year, while 4 percent more unaffiliated voters participated. The actual number of unaffiliated voters who made themselves heard in this year’s election was 502,011.
In Colorado, the older someone is, the more likely they are to vote, and the less likely they are to approve a tax increase. Of the nearly one-third of all the people who voted in the Nov. 5 election and were unaffiliated, nearly half of them were over age 55. It is easy to see how that contributed to the defeat of Proposition CC.
The measure had been passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature with some Republican support. The continuing struggle to pay for education and transportation is shared by state legislators of both parties. Colorado’s strong economy is inconsistent with its low ranking for state spending on education, especially higher education, and the $9 billion backlog of road projects.
In the aftermath of the election loss, coupled with the losses in 2018 of two competing ballot issues to fund roads and transportation, the legislature is going to have to take a fresh look at how these needs can be addressed. Who knows? Maybe the Democrats and the Republicans will even look together.
The state’s outdoor recreation office (ORC) was created by former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. It falls under the office of economic development and international trade. Its purpose is to support business and make sure that business supports the outdoors and the environment. So said Samantha Albert, ORC deputy director, to a gathering of 50 leaders of business and government in a South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce (SMDC) economic development program held at the offices of AAA Colorado, Inc. at 6061 S. Willow Drive in Greenwood Village on Oct. 11.
Albert told the attendees from the fields of banking, finance, insurance, energy, and government that 92 percent of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation every year. She further explained that the outdoor recreation economy in Colorado annually accounts for $28 billion in consumer spending, ten percent of the state’s gross domestic product, involves 19 percent of its labor force, has a $62 billion total economic impact, and supports 511,000 direct jobs. Six Colorado colleges and universities, including the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, now offer degrees and certificates directly related to the outdoor recreation industry.
Chris Castillian, executive director of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), told the SMDC economic development group that in its 27 years of existence, GOCO has invested $1.2 billion into projects that built 900 miles of trails, added over 47,000 acres to the state park system, helped support 43 endangered or threatened species of wildlife, protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers, and employed 9.400 young people through the Colorado Youth Corps Association.
Created in 1992 and funded solely by the Colorado Lottery to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces, GOCO’s 17-member independent board, appointed by the governor, awards competitive grants to serve its stated goals. Our state constitution requires that GOCO splits its grant awards equally between 1) outdoor recreation, 2) wildlife, 3) open space, and 4) local government projects.
One of GOCO’s current goals is to connect bicycle trails throughout the state so that riders will one day be able to ride from Denver International Airport to Grand Junction on their bikes.
GOCO is currently focused on the Generation Wild movement, a $30 million statewide campaign to get children and their families in underserved communities all over Colorado outside to reconnect youth to nature.
Castillian told the SMDC economic development group that Fishers Peak Ranch in Trinidad has just been announced as the future home of Colorado’s 42nd state park, which will be comprised of 20,000 acres.
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