Boulder County: County Voters May See Open Space Tax Question in November

Every year Boulder County conducts a public opinion poll to gauge residents’ support for various tax initiatives. The poll done in December 2015 asked likely voters their thoughts on four proposals. Two of those ideas, extending the open space sales tax or extending the tax and using it for a combination of open space and “sustainability programs,” polled well enough that the Commissioners may consider putting one of them on the November ballot.

A countywide property tax to pay for free transit passes for all residents, failed to gain enough support to make it viable this fall. According to the poll, forty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for the idea but not surprisingly the highest amount of support came from those who are least likely to pay it, younger residents and renters. Less than a third of Longmont residents said they would support the tax, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given RTD’s failure to follow through on its promises to build a rail line to Longmont.

Another idea to increase property taxes to reconstruct county subdivision roads also failed to gain initial support. Only 52 percent of voters said they would support it. The consultants noted that this question could possibly succeed if there was a strong campaign mounted by its supporters.

The last proposal was a “head tax” to pay for transit passes for all Boulder employees, which would be in addition to the countywide property tax for transit passes. This question was only posed to Boulder residents. Only 48 percent of respondents would support this idea, which would require each employee and employer to pay $5 a month.

In general terms, pollsters look for at least a 60 percent initial approval rating when gauging the potential success of a tax initiative. This is because the percentage of voters who would vote yes generally goes down as the election gets nearer and more information is available.

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