Local Issues to Keep Eye on in 2018

Jan 30, 2018 | Uncategorized

This will be a busy year for Fort Collins.

The City Council recently discussed when to ask voters to consider renewing the Keep Fort Collins Great tax. It doesn’t expire until the end 2020, nearly 3 years from now. The early consensus seems to be the election April 2019. It looks like the City has a good story to tell, but it also has to justify the continuation of a temporary tax when the original reason – the Great Recession – is gone. This is a conversation not to rush.

Last week the Coloradoan editorial board lauded the partnership that led to the announcement of a contract to widen I-25 from Highway 14 to Highway 402 south of Loveland. This has been the most impressive regional effort I’ve ever seen. City, town and county leaders in the two-county Larimer-Weld area have been joined by business leaders and regional CDOT officials to successfully advocate for funding to address congested and dangerous North I-25.

And, since the additional lane is an express lane, it is a boon for transit and trip reliability. It will be free for high occupancy vehicles with 3 or more people. That means buses, too. For the rest of us willing to pay, it will provide reliability for when we need to get somewhere by a certain time.

Transportation funding will be a big topic during the 2018 session of the state legislature and may hit the statewide ballot in the fall. The Chamber has underwritten the cost of two statewide polls since September. Not surprisingly, Coloradoans are unhappy with highway congestion. Several funding options are now being discussed. One involves using some of the $1billion of new state revenue for transportation. We are recommending $300million.

With those funds to secure bond repayments, we are urging the legislature to refer a $3.5billion bonding measure to voters. Bonding would provide the means to finance projects to get them under construction.

In addition to that, the Denver business community is considering petitioning a transportation tax increase measure onto the November ballot.  An alternative is being proposed by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute who is advocating the reallocation of existing state funds with a measure called Fix Our Damn Roads.

One more thing on transportation is discussion about a trillion dollar federal infrastructure bill. The amount remains to be seen or even if there will be a bill. I believe there will be and a key component would be the requirement of state and local funding matches. States and locales bringing their own resources will be in a better position than the rest to secure federal funding.

The City of Fort Collins will be honored in Washington, DC this year for winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. This is a big honor that reflects favorably on the community and city government. I heard a City leader say this doesn’t mean the City is perfect and the Baldrige process identifies areas for additional improvement. All true, but enjoy the well-deserved recognition.

Also, expect at least one big business announcement this year.

2018 will be interesting!

Originally published in the Coloradoan on 1.28.18