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By Sally Griffith

Lakewood City Council is calling a special election on the TABOR Amendment again. For those of you who don’t remember, TABOR stands for Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR restricts the amount of money the city can collect and spend each year to the rate of inflation plus a growth factor. If the need for funds and services grows faster than the limits of TABOR, the city may do one of two things: 1) ask the voters to allow Lakewood to keep and spend the money on services or 2) refund the money to property owners. Keep in mind that some of this is money it has already collected and unless this vote is passed, city must go to the expense of returning the money.

This will be the fifth time that the city has asked to lift the TABOR limits on the city budget. These votes occurred in 1994, 1999, 2005 and 2007. These votes focused on lifting TABOR limits on specific projects and types of funding. Some of these projects include Colorado Mills, the city’s sales, motor vehicle use and construction use tax, open space revenues and grants for public safety, transportation and cultural activities.

Voter approval of this ballot question will allow the city to keep and spend $12.5 million on the following items: $8.5 million for open space and parkland purchases, $2 million for police protective gear and other safety-related equipment, $2 million for infrastructure and transportation needs.

Excess future revenues are the concern of the second part of the ballot question. Approval would allow the city to keep and spend excess future revenues through Dec. 31, 2025. Those funds will be divided in the following ways:

  • One third for open space and parkland purchases, improvement, and maintenance.
  • One third on infrastructure such as new sidewalks, paths and lighting and high-priority public safety issues.
  • One third on police agents, safety equipment, capital needs.

There will be a separate budget for the $12.5 million and any future revenues to be sure that the money is spent on these needs.

If voters vote yes on these ballot questions, TABOR limits will be lifted for seven years and Lakewood can spend money on services that Lakewood voters have deemed important. If voters vote no, the TABOR limits will remain in place and refunds would be made to property owners. According to Lakewood City Council, services in Lakewood can remain at current levels or there can be more parks and recreation, more transportation improvements and improved safety.

For Lakewood residents, this is their opportunity to determine how their money can be spent for the next seven years and for what they think best for their community. But to do that, they must vote on Nov. 6.