A 10-minute guide to city, county and state ballot measures

Only have a few minutes to fill out your ballot? Read a quick analysis of each measure below. Click on the headline to read a full story.

Looking for info on candidates? Check out our 10-minute guide

City of Boulder ballot issues

2A: City sales tax extension and arts funding
Should we keep paying a sales tax that funds critical services but dedicate half the revenue to arts and culture?

How much will taxes go up?

They won’t — this is an extension of an existing tax. You’re already paying it.

What the tax pays for, however, is changing: 100% of previous revenue went into the city’s general fund, which pays for essential functions like administration, police, fire, etc. Now, half of the revenue (about $3.5 million) will be dedicated to arts and culture.

Things to consider

  • Boulder spends less on arts than other cities
  • Spending on arts increases local sales tax, offsetting the cost
  • The city is trying to move away from the practice of restricting revenue in this way
  • The General Fund pays for essential government functions; entire departments (like police and fire) rely on it
  • Dedicating this will limit the city’s ability to pay for increased costs and new projects, programs, etc. 
  • This tax does not expire until the end of 2024. If this measure fails, there will be one more opportunity to extend it

2B: Elections Administrative Charter Cleanup
Should Boulder give petitioners more time to gather signatures, and the city clerk’s office more time to process them?

Things to consider

  • Would give petitioners 10 more days to gather signatures and the city clerk’s office an extra five days to process and verify signatures
  • Clarifies existing rules on certain types of petitions

302: Safe Zones 4 Kids
Parents want schools, sidewalks and paths prioritized for encampment removals, but it may not change the city’s approach.

This one is pretty complicated to explain quickly. We strongly recommend you read more about it before voting.

Things to consider

  • Camping, tents and propane tanks are already illegal everywhere in the city
  • Dedicated removal team(s) in place since 2021 
  • More than 1,185 encampments have been removed since 2021
  • 72-hours notice is sometimes given before removing encampments (with many exceptions) as a result of court rulings. This measure will not explicitly change that practice, but it could allow removals in more places without notice. (It’s complicated since we’re dealing with constitutionally protected rights.)
  • Encampments are present along the creek path behind Boulder High School. Students have reported verbal harassment, witnessing drug use and other crimes, causing them to feel unsafe
  • Crime is higher in and around encampments
  • The city currently prioritizes schools in its decision matrix, but not as highly as threats to human life and safety, blockages of public rights-of-way or reported crime
  • Encampment removals are ineffective at reducing homelessness and harmful to residents
  • The city’s own website states that safe zones will be ineffective and not change the city’s approach
  • Encampments near sidewalks and multi-use paths would be prioritized for removal throughout the entire city, not just near schools

Boulder County Ballot Issues

1A: Open Space Sales and Use Tax Extension
Should we keep paying a portion of sales tax to fund (primarily) the purchase of open space?

How much would taxes go up?

They won’t — this is an extension of an existing tax. You’re already paying it.

Things to consider

  • Money will be used to buy land, water and mineral rights
  • Tax contributes roughly 8% of the county’s open space budget
  • County officials provided very little information on what the money will be used for. This should essentially be considered a blank check to buy more open space

1B: Affordable Housing Tax Extension and Revenue Change
Should Boulder County keep paying a sales tax used to fund affordable housing?

How much would taxes go up?

They won’t — this is an extension of an existing tax. You’re already paying it. 

What the tax pays for, however, is changing: Previous revenue was used to build an alternative sentencing facility. Before that, it paid for flood recovery projects.

Things to consider

  • Boulder County has an affordable housing crisis: We are the 9th most expensive metro area in the country, in terms of housing prices.
  • Boulder County has a goal of building or preserving 12% of all housing as affordable by 2035, at an estimated cost of $400 million. This would raise $300 million of that.
  • City of Boulder asking county commissioners to allocate some of the money for homelessness prevention and housing
  • More state and federal money is being made available for housing

State ballot issues

Proposition HH: Property tax relief
Measure would lower property taxes but also taxpayer refunds
By Colorado Sun

How much would property taxes go down?

They won’t — they simply won’t increase as much in the future as they have recently due to rising home values.

Use this handy calculator to see how much HH would save you

How much would TABOR refunds decrease?

That depends on how much you make, since refunds are income based (people who earn more, get more back).

According to the Colorado Sun‘s analysis:
Income under $50K: +$246 more next year
$50,000-$99,000: +$63
$99,000 and up: Decreased refund

These amounts won’t stay consistent: Refunds will shrink over the next nine years. Next year will be the largest refund: $832 for everyone.

Things to consider

  • Would lower the property tax rate and exempt a certain portion of the home values from taxation
  • Would expand property tax exemptions for older adults
  • Would cap annual increases in property tax (except for school districts)
  • Less $$ for local governments
  • Expires after 10 years
  • Would set up $20M rent relief program

This one’s also seriously complicated. We recommend you read the full Colorado Sun story before voting.

Prop II: Nicotine tax revenue would pay for preschool
Yes vote lets state keep $24M brought in from existing tax
By Colorado Sun

How much would taxes go up?

They won’t — this is extra money from a tax increase voters approved in 2020. Prop II lets the state keep that extra money. If it fails, $24 million would be returned to nicotine and tobacco wholesalers and distributors.

Things to consider

  • Not a tax increase: it’s extra $$ from an existing tax
  • If it fails, tax would be cut by 11.53% to avoid future excess revenue
  • Money would go to state’s pre-school program
  • Sin taxes (on things like alcohol and cigarettes) are regressive

This guide may take 10 minutes to read, but it represents months of interviews, research and writing. If you value this information, please consider paying for it.


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