Longmont: Message Ordinance Approved

Recently the Longmont City Council considered an ordinance that would prohibit the City from entering into future long-term water supply agreements with towns on its eastern border. Mayor Pro Tem Brian Bagley first suggested the idea after voicing concern that other towns were encroaching on Longmont’s boundaries. By denying other jurisdictions the ability to lease water, he said the ordinance would discourage them from annexing additional properties. He added that the ordinance “was not about oil and gas.”

Longmont’s City Charter already states that the City may provide municipal services (such as water) outside the city limits only if it clearly benefits Longmont residents, making the ordinance unnecessary. Bonnie Finley and Gabe Santos opposed the ordinance for that reason, among others. Finley called it “bad public policy” and a “message ordinance.” Santos said it punishes communities to the east and is “a political football.”

The discussion illustrated a growing divide on Council. The measure was touted as a way to prevent sprawl but whether anyone wanted to admit it or not, it was also about oil and gas because the industry leases water for fracking. Polly Christensen snidely alluded to this when she said everyone on Council had been “lobbied extensively by the gas and oil industry” prior to the meeting. Santos and Finley found themselves in the minority and were visibly frustrated. The final vote was 5 to 2, with Santos and Finley dissenting.

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