Lakewood City Council says yes to special November ballot question

Residents will determine what will happen with TABOR limits this fall

Posted 9/10/18

Lakewood citizens will have an important decision when they receive their November ballots: either property owners get a refund from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits, or the money will go …

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Lakewood City Council says yes to special November ballot question

Residents will determine what will happen with TABOR limits this fall

Posted

Lakewood citizens will have an important decision when they receive their November ballots: either property owners get a refund from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits, or the money will go toward projects that the city has identified as community needs.

Last Monday, Lakewood City Council voted 7-3 in favor of a special November ballot question in which voters can choose to have $12.5 million refunded to property owners, or use the funds toward community projects. The money comes from additional tax revenue collected last year, largely due to the 2017 hailstorm that caused residents to replace their cars, or make repairs to their homes.

The constitutional amendment TABOR restricts the amount of income and spending that the city can engage in, and it requires residents to vote on what they want to do with TABOR limits. The average property owner of a $350,000 home would receive a refund of a little over $100, but if residents vote to lift TABOR tax caps, then the $12.5 million can go a long way toward making Lakewood a stronger community.

Lakewood officials have identified hypothetical projects that they have categorized into three categories: “safe community,” which would see additional police agents, vehicles and other equipment, “quality living environment” that has park improvements and development in mind and “quality transportation options,” which would see improvements to things like sidewalks, traffic signals and turn lanes.

“To get (the refund) back to have a hamburger or something doesn’t make sense, when all that money can do something positive for something. I think it’s a good thing. It’ll be money well spent, and the people will have an idea of where it is going,” Lakewood resident Kathi Hasfjord said.

Ramey Johnson, Pete Roybal and Mike Bieda were the three councilmembers who voted against the special November ballot question.

“Many (Lakewood residents) live in single family homes. They’re elderly. Even a small refund would mean a lot to them,” Bieda said before casting his vote.

The city has voted four times to lift TABOR limits. In 2007 it voted to use TABOR limits on all open space revenues and grants for public safety, transportation and cultural activities. TABOR refunds have been returned to property owners every year since then.

“My belief is that the council made the right decision in saying that we should take this (vote) to the people as far as the city being able to reinvest in itself. It costs a lot to maintain a quality city. What I love about Lakewood is that we’re a city in transition, but we’re not afraid to take risks and move forward,” former Lakewood Mayor Steve Burkholder said.

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