By a better than 3-1 margin in unofficial election returns, Arapahoe County voters favored continuing to fund the county’s open spaces, trails and parks with the extension of a 0.25-cent sales and use tax that is already in place.
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As of late Nov. 4, the yes vote on countywide Ballot Issue 1A was leading by 76.2% to 23.3%.
The Open Space and Trails program was authorized by voters in 2003 and has since supported construction or renovation of 160 parks, trailheads and heritage-area projects. It has also helped to conserve 31,000 acres of open spaces.
With municipal partners, 70 miles of trails have been completed, as have improvements to trails including the Mary Carter Greenway, the High Line Canal and the Cherry Creek Trail.
So far, $257 million has been awarded from this tax to municipalities and special districts through grants and joint projects.
Proceeds from the tax can be used to conserve lands that protect water quality in rivers, lakes and streams; protect and maintain natural areas, wildlife habitats and open space; and maintain and improve neighborhood parks and trails. Funds also help to maintain and preserve historic sites; preserve working farms and ranches; and provide more active recreation opportunities.
Those in support of Issue 1A said it can help preserve open spaces, trails, parks, heritage center and streams for future generations.
In the ballot guide sent to county voters, opponents of the measure said that if the measure passed, the tax “will no longer have to be approved or authorized by the voters. ... It will never expire.” They also complained that the county’s open-space program has a $43 million unspent fund balance, “so why do they need more?”
Issue 1A extends this tax beyond its current expiration date until repealed as a voter-approved revenue change — something that those opposed to the measure call out as a red flag.
Rejection would have meant the current tax would expire in 2023.
In a statement Nov. 2, Arapahoe County officials said they "would like to express our deepest thanks to voters for approving Ballot Issue 1A in the 2021 Coordinated Election. By agreeing to extend the Open Space Sales and Use Tax, County voters have ensured that we and our community partners will be able to continue improving and enhancing our many outdoor recreational and educational assets, programs, and services well into the future. This small tax has already contributed mightily to these efforts, and the county will use these funds in the most effective and responsible ways possible as we execute our vision for these operations."
For results of other races, including those in Littleton, Centennial and Englewood, visit ColoradoCommunityMedia.com.
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