Longmont City Council to Take Positions on Pair of State Ballot Initiatives

September 9, 2018
Longmont City Council to Take Positions on Pair of State Ballot Initiatives

A proposed resolution by Longmont City Council opposes Proposition 109, the "Fix Our Damn Roads" initiative, based on an argument that it would not provide any bond funding for county or municipal transportation projects,

If You Go

What: Longmont City Council

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., Longmont

Agenda: tinyurl.com/ycccconc

Longmont City Council members on Tuesday will consider urge their constituents to vote “no” on two of the items that will appear on Coloradans’ fall election ballots.

One of those measures — backed by, among others, the oil and gas industry — would amend Colorado’s constitution to entitle property owners to “just compensation” when state or local laws and regulations lead to a drop in those property’s fair market values.

The second is Proposition 109, the “Fix Our Damn Roads” initiative that would authorize the state to sell up to $3.5 billion in bonds to finance up to 66 specific projects to expand, construct, repair and maintain state highways and bridges.

Council members voted unanimously during their Aug. 28 meeting for motions by Councilwoman Joan Peck to direct the city staff to draft resolutions opposing both those state ballot questions.

The resolution opposing Amendment 74, the measure that would require state and local governments to compensate private property owners for losses of value, argues that while the measure “is shrouded in simple language, it has far-reaching and complicated impacts.”

Inserting that amendment into the state constitution would diminish those governments’ ability “to adopt — let alone attempt to enforce — reasonable regulations, limitations and restrictions upon private property,” the Longmont resolution says, adding that would jeopardize “laws, ordinances and regulations designed to protect public health and safety, the environment, our natural resources, public infrastructure and other public resources.”

An example of how it might work, if it becomes law, according to the Colorado Legislature’s nonpartisan staff: If the state or a local government were to adopt regulations limiting oil or natural gas development, the owner of the mineral rights could file a claim for the reduced value of that property right.

The Legislature’s staff is in the process of preparing analyses and pro-and-con arguments for all the measures that will be on November’s statewide ballot — analyses that will be mailed to voters in a “blue book” prior to the election.

A draft of the legislative staff’s analysis for Amendment 74 says one of the arguments from supporters of the measure is that “if a law or regulation causes any loss of value, it is only right that the property owner be fairly compensated by the state or local government.

“However, current law does not require a government to compensate an owner unless the loss in value to the property is near total,” that argument for the Amendment says.

As for Proposition 109, the “Fix Our Damn Roads” initiative spearheaded by the libertarian think tank Independence Institute, the resolution up for Longmont council consideration on Tuesday objects that the $3.5 million in proposed bonds the measure would authorize for state transportation projects has no offsetting revenue source, such as asking voters for a tax increase to repay the bond buyers.

In order to cover the bond repayment costs from within the sate budget, the Legislature would likely have to cut other state programs and services, the council resolution argues, such as K-12 and higher education funding.

Nor would Proposition 109 provide any bond funding for county or municipal transportation projects, the Longmont resolution says.

The Independence Institute and other backers of the measure, however, have argued that it would accelerate the construction of essential highway projects without raising taxes or fees.

Supporters of Proposition 109 say the state has failed to invest enough money in maintaining and expanding the highway system and that the measure would correct that by directing that highway projects be prioritized over other state government programs.

Longmont’s council has not adopted resolutions encouraging “yes” or “no” votes on any of the other 11 measures that will be on all Coloradans’voters’ ballots in the general election — five initiatives that were petitioned onto the ballot and six the Legislature referred to voters.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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