woman smiling, wearing glasses and a suit
Ann Hutchison
President & CEO

For comments and questions about this blog, please email Ann at [email protected]

Sustainable Funding: Potential 2023 Ballot Issues Narrow

by | Jul 18, 2023 | From the CEO

woman smiling, wearing glasses and a suit
Ann Hutchison | President & CEO

For comments and questions about this blog, please email Ann at [email protected]

The Fort Collins City Council continues to wrestle with ideas for closing the enormous annual funding gap between what our planning documents call for and actual tax receipts. The Chamber continues to call for deeper consideration of prioritizing programs and community expectations with the funding streams already in place. Your Fort Collins City Council continues to evaluate various strategies to raise taxes and fees to fund these priorities and will consider, at their July 25 Work Session, language and framework that could place two items on our local November 2023 ballot.

As a reminder, the $40M – $46M annual revenue gap would fund priorities identified in the ReCreate Parks & Recreation Master Plan, the Fort Collins Transit Master Plan, the Fort Collins Housing Strategic Plan and the Our Climate Future Plan.  It is important to acknowledge that the City is fiscally whole today.  If no new funding is identified or approved by voters, life in the City of Fort Collins remains very similar to today for the short-term.  The creation of new funding would accelerate the work outlined in the plans above.

After almost two years of conversation, the Council has narrowed the funding tools to an increase in the natural gas franchise fee, an increase in property tax and a new ¼ cent dedicated sales tax.  Under TABOR, all new taxes and debt issuance must be approved by voters while fees and usage charge increases can be changed by Council action alone.

Your Chamber Local Legislative Affairs Committee (LLAC) and your Chamber Board of Directors have been tracking this issue alongside the Council and the Council Finance Committee.  City staff has been tremendous in outreaching to our community leaders to discuss the options under consideration while considering feedback.

While nothing is final on the ballot yet, the Chamber Board and LLAC did offer the following questions to our government leaders.  They provide interesting foundational questions for voters to consider when reviewing a final ballot issue:

  • We have an amazing parks system, but have never really contemplated how to maintain it over time. Are we considering “easier to maintain” solutions when designing neighborhood and community parks?
  • What should government stop doing to fund these priorities? Are there cuts or decisions that should be made in our current funding design that would be a better use of funds?
  • How do the increased property valuations impact the City budget? Are there net new dollars that will be available as a result of the new assessments?
  • What kind of automation solutions has the City considered when working to find efficiencies and savings in their budget?
  • When we invite our community to dream about the future and the role of government in creating that future, should there be financial guard rails? Are we planning for a future that we can never fund effectively?

I don’t have a lot of answers for the blog this week, but I invite and encourage you to continue to track this important conversation as we prepare for the November 2023 elections.  And if you are sparked to join the conversation, please do.  Business and citizens will be directly impacted by the choices we make.