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Colorado voter guide: 2021 election info on Denver, statewide ballot measures

Ballots have been mailed to registered voters and must be returned by Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2. Find summaries and stories about the three statewide ballot issues and 13 Denver ballot issues below.

Colorado ballot measures

Amendment 78: Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative

Summary Amendment 78 will ask voters whether to require the Colorado Legislature to approve spending of all state money, including what’s referred to as “custodial money.”

Proposition 119: Creation of Out-of-School Education Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative

Summary Proposition 119 will ask Colorado’s voters on Nov. 2 whether to raise the state’s recreational marijuana sales tax to bring in about $137 million a year for out-of-school educational programs for children ages 5-17 — with a priority on kids from low-income households.

Proposition 120: Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative

Summary Proposition 120 seeks to lower property tax rates on homes and businesses. The measure would cut the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and the non-residential property tax assessment rate from 29% to 26.4%.

Denver ballot measures

Question 2A: Denver Facilities System Bonds

Summary Question 2A is a $104 million bond measure for Denver facilities projects like repairs and improvements at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Bonfils Theater Complex and the Denver Zoo; two new libraries; renovation of a city-owned youth empowerment center; and accessibility upgrades for city buildings.

Question 2B: Denver Housing and Sheltering System Bonds

Summary Question 2B is a $38.6 million bond measure for housing and shelter projects like building or renovating shelters for the homeless. City officials could also use the money to buy buildings or convert structures into shelters.

Question 2C: Denver Transportation and Mobility System Bonds

Summary Question 2C is a $63.3 million bond measure for transportation projects like expanding Denver’s sidewalks; renovating existing bike lanes and adding new ones; rebuilding stretches of the Morrison Road corridor to add a cultural and arts district; and building an urban trail downtown.

Question 2D: Denver Parks and Recreation System Bonds

Summary Question 2D is a $54 million bond measure for parks projects in northeast and south Denver; restoring athletic courts and fields; replacing playground and recreation equipment; and rebuilding the Mestizo-Curtis Park pool.

Question 2E: National Western Campus Facilities System Bonds

Summary Question 2E is a $190 million bond measure to build a new arena at the National Western Center campus and to renovate the existing 1909 Building.

Question 2F: Safe and Sound

Summary When the Denver City Council approved new group-living rules for the city in February allowing up to five unrelated people to live in a single home, Safe and Sound Denver opposed the move. Now, the group is asking voters to repeal the council’s decision. Voting to repeal the group living change would also overturn the council’s decision to expand the number of available plots in the city for halfway homes, which previously were only allowed in industrial areas.

Question 2G: Fill Future Vacancies for Independent Monitor

Summary The Office of the Independent Monitor is responsible for overseeing all disciplinary investigations into Denver’s police and sheriff’s departments, for recommending policy changes and investigating other incidents like how police handled the George Floyd protests in 2020. The position is currently appointed by the mayor, but this measure would instead put that appointment in the hands of the volunteer Citizen Oversight Board.

Question 2H: Election Day Change

Summary Proposed by Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez, the measure would move up the city’s general election from the first Tuesday of May in odd-numbered years to the first Tuesday in April. The move would give the clerk’s office more time to send mail ballots to people traveling or living abroad in case of a June runoff election.

Ordinance 300: Pandemic Research Fund

Summary This measure would increase Denver’s local marijuana sales tax from 10.3% to 11.8% in an effort to raise around $7 million annually for the University of Colorado Denver CityCenter, the university’s partnership with the city and local businesses. The money would be used to research technology that could be used to keep people safe during a pandemic and other preparedness and recovery methods. Three-quarters of the money would be spent researching personal protective equipment, disinfection and sterilization technology, and design features of physical spaces. The remaining quarter would be earmarked for researching public policy and planning. No more than 8% of the money raised by the tax increase could be spent on administrative expenses.

Ordinance 301: Parks and Open Space

Summary This measure would require voter approval before any commercial or housing construction could begin on any parks or city-owned land covered by a conservation easement. This would include the 155-acre Park Hill Golf Course property, where the developers and property owners at Westside Investment Partners want to build.

Ordinance 302: Conservation Easement

Summary A countermeasure to the Parks and Open Space measure. This measure was proposed by Westside Investment Partners and would amend the definition of “conservation easement” to apply only to those reviewed and approved by the state Division of Conservation. This would effectively allow development on the Park Hill Golf Course property, currently covered by an easement.

Ordinance 303: Let’s Do Better

Summary This measure, proposed by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party, would ban anyone from camping on private property without written permission from owners. It would also allow sanctioned camping sites in up to four places on public property, requiring amenities like running water, restrooms and lighting. The measure would require city officials to enforce the camping ban within three days of receiving a complaint and allows people to sue the city if it fails to clear up the camp.

Ordinance 304: Enough Taxes Already

Summary Also proposed by Flicker, this measure would cap Denver’s aggregate sales and use tax rate at 4.5%, down from its current 4.81%. It would also require the city to reduce any other new sales and use taxes if voters approve new ones above that 4.5% cap.

Text for the Colorado ballot measures was written by reporters Saja Hindi and Alex Burness; text for the Denver ballot measures was written by reporters Conrad Swanson and Joe Rubino.