Fort Collins Area Chamber Releases Ballot Endorsements
Citizens of Larimer County will have an extremely long ballot to consider on November 8. The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce has taken a position on 9 ballot issues that are critical to our current and future workforce, our quality of life and our economic future.
Summary of the Chamber’s Positions
The Chamber is recommending a NO vote on the following issues:
Amendment 69: Colorado Care Act
Amendment 70: Increase State Minimum Wage
The Chamber is recommending a YES vote on the following issues:
Amendment 71: Raise the Bar
Larimer County Issue 1A: Mental Health, Detox/Substance Abuse Facility and Services
Larimer County Issue 1B: Broadband Opt out
City of Fort Collins Issue 2A: Debrucing Keep Fort Collins Great
Poudre School District Issue 3B: Mill Levy Override
Poudre School District Issue 3C: Bond for New Construction
Poudre River Public Library District Issue 5F: Debrucing the District
The Chamber is endorsing these candidates:
Steve Johnson, District 2, Larimer County Board of Commissioners
Tom Donnelly, District 3, Larimer County Board of Commissioners
Background Information about the Chamber’s Positions
Amendment 69: VOTE NO
Amendment 69 would raise $25 billion in taxes to create a government-run health insurance system. The Chamber is opposing this experimental initiative because of the staggering cost—it doubles the size of the entire state budget and gives Colorado the highest income tax rate in the country, creating a tax structure that hits our smallest of businesses the hardest. It’s not clear what’s covered or what the cost to working families would be. In the end, there is no evidence that this huge new government entity will improve health care. And, it’s built into the state constitution making it extremely difficult to change.
Amendment 70: VOTE NO
Amendment 70 would maintain Colorado’s minimum wage in the Constitution and increase it to $12 per hour by Jan. 1, 2020, with an annual increase thereafter based on inflation. Just like our economy, wages fluctuate due to a number of market factors. With that in mind, cementing a minimum wage and automatic adjustment into our constitution doesn’t make sense. Minimum wage should be tackled through statutory law, allowing us to respond to changing conditions. This mandatory wage hits small businesses particularly hard.
Amendment 71: VOTE YES
Amendment 71 changes requirements to amend the state constitution, requiring that voter signatures be collected from across Colorado (giving rural Colorado a voice in what is on our ballot) and requiring a passage rate of 55 percent. (It’s important to remember that Coloradans still can pass a law, a statute, with only 50 percent plus one under this proposed amendment—this only changes how we amend our constitution.) Colorado’s constitution is among the easiest in the country to amend—it’s been amended more than 150 times so far. Once in the constitution, it’s extremely challenging to make changes when circumstances change or unintended consequences surface. Further, Colorado’s current process attracts out-of-state interests who want to use our state as a testing ground. Fighting extreme ideas on our ballot costs us all, so we’re supportive of ensuring that more Colorado voices are required to change our constitution.
Ballot Issue 1A – Mental Health, Detox/Substance Abuse Facility and Services: VOTE YES
Ballot Issue 1A would create a new 51,000-square-foot, round the clock detox and mental health facility would serve 12,000 people annually with 990 admissions in the 12-bed acute treatment unit; 820 estimated annual admissions to the medically monitored withdrawal management or detox wing, with a medical staff to administer medications to aid withdrawal and 300 estimated admissions each year for short-term intensive residential treatment. To pay for the facility, Larimer County would implement a sales tax of .25% (25 cents per $100 spent) that is estimated to generate $16,500,000 per year for a span of 25 years. The first two years of the tax would be dedicated to constructing a facility and the remaining 23 years of the tax would go to operations and maintenance.
While many quality behavioral health treatment and support services are being provided in Larimer County, the current continuum of services being offered is not sufficient to meet the needs of the many people who have mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders. As a result, these people often simply can’t get the level of care that they need to address their illness.
Ballot Issue 1B: VOTE YES
Ballot Issue 1B will re-establish the County’s legal ability to provide cable television, telecommunications, and advanced services (high speed internet) either directly or indirectly. Access to high speed internet is important to business, and passage of this issue allows the county to be a partner in finding those technology solutions and could open the door for better service in the rural and underserved areas of the county.
Ballot Issue 2A: VOTE YES
Ballot Issue 2A would allow the City of Fort Collins to keep all of the revenues that have been generated by the “Keep Fort Collins Great” tax passed in 2010. The original ballot language asked for the same, but legal maneuvering suggests that the City may not be able to keep those excess dollars without the passage of this ballot issue. While the Chamber did not support the original tax, we do believe it was the intent of the voters in 2010 for the City to keep the excess revenue.
Ballot Issue 3B and 3C: VOTE YES
We are supporting the bond issue and the mill levy override for PSD. Investing in our school district is critical to growing our own workforce and meeting the needs of the knowledge-based economy we are building. With no increase to the current tax rate (52.63 mills), the bond would generate $375 million to build three new PSD schools, a new athletics facility, a new transportation center and a permanent addition to Zach Elementary School. The mill levy override would produce $8 million annually to pay for operating costs of new buildings, new and existing schools and school support staff salaries, materials, equipment, technology and financial support for growth at existing schools.
Poudre River Public Library District
Ballot Issue 5F: VOTE YES
Ballot Issue 5F would allow the Poudre River Public Library District to keep all of the revenues that have been generated by the district tax passed in 2006. The original ballot language asked for the same, but legal maneuvering suggests that the District may not be able to keep those excess dollars without the passage of this ballot issue. While the Chamber did not support the original tax, we do believe it was the intent of the voters in 2006 for the District to keep the excess revenue.
Larimer County Commission Races
Support Steve Johnson and Tom Donnelly
Larimer County citizens will have the opportunity to elect two candidates to the Board of County Commissioners. The Chamber is endorsing District 2 candidate Steve Johnson and District 3 candidate Tom Donnelly. Both candidates have done outstanding work as Commissioners, leading the community through two environmental crises as well as an economic downtown. We need their leadership to continue to position Larimer County for the future. Videos from all of the candidate interviews and their candidate questionnaires are available and can be viewed here
Please note: The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to provide education, information and analysis of local issues and candidates specifically for its members. The opinions expressed in this website are meant to give Chamber members a perspective that advocates for the business community and the city’s overall quality of life, and to give members insight into the potential impacts of local issues and candidates.