It's October, and you know what that means. That's right, it's election season. And I'm here to help sort out what it all means.
Boulder County has two proposals on the ballot this year, appropriately named 1A and 1B. Each of them is an up or down vote on extending an existing sales tax, in both cases a tax of one cent on a ten dollar purchase.
Issue 1A is an extension of the county Open Space tax, which expires in 2009, for another 20 years. The tax will go to the repayment of bonds that will be used for acquiring open space property (or easements), to make improvements and build trails, and to manage and maintain existing open space property.
It's hard to argue against this one. It's only a penny on a ten dollar purchase, it's an extension of an existing tax so that sales tax won't increase, and it goes to support the county open space program. The program, along with that of the City of Boulder's is something that makes Boulder what it is today. Arguments against the proposal generally come down to lack of support for the value of open space to our community. Given that I believe it adds greatly to the value of the community, I strongly support a YES vote on measure 1A.
Issue 1B is similarly a 15-year extension of a one-cent-on-ten-dollars sales tax set to expire in 2009, in this case for transportation (or to pay for bonds, the revenue from which would be used for transportation projects). There is a long list of proposed projects in the write-up for the measure, so you can get a very good feel for how the money will be spent. Of course, there is no guarantee that the projects on the list will be the ones that actually get funded. The projects are proposed to be completed over the next 15 years, so it could also be a while for your favorite project to make the top of the list. It also counts on federal or other matching funds to get some of them done.
Of the total county expenditures under this bill, 36% would be for roadway improvements for safety and to reduce congestion. It looks like the big majority of these projects are in eastern Boulder County, and I guess that makes sense, as that is where most of the non-city traffic is. However, I do wonder about the lack of mountain projects on the list.
The next biggest chunk, 27% is for improving shoulders along existing roads, primarily to allow better sharing of the roads between motor vehicles and bicycles. As a cyclist, this is something that I wholeheartedly support, and I would think that drivers who are concerned about cyclists on the road would support it as well. I looked over the list of roads, and they are all places that are popular with cyclists. I don't want to wait 15 years to finish everything here.
16% of the total is to be spent on transit projects. This money will continue the county's support for the Eco Pass program, which provides low-cost bus passes. It will also provide continued and additional service on several county bus routes. Making it a bit easier for folks to take the bus seems like a good investment on traffic issues.
A bit less, 15%, would be spent on trails. This would include two of my favorites, the US36 bikeway (Boulder County portion), and the Boulder Reservoir Feeder Canal Trail
all the way out to Lyons.
Last and least, the tax would also fund some pedestrian projects, primarily pedestrian underpasses at some treacherous spots. Each project is guaranteed to tie up traffic for a year while it's being built, but eventually we'll get over it and appreciate them.
So, with enough projects on the list that everybody should find something to love, along with the fact that this is nothing more than a renewal of an existing small sales tax, I encourage a YES vote on Boulder County Issue 1B.
Labels: Boulder, Colorado, cycling, election 2007, nature, running, taxes, transportation, voting