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Longmont ballot issues: Water bond measure, extension of city lease terms passing

As of early Wednesday morning, both measures were poised to pass.
A view inside Nelson Flanders Water Treatment Plant. (Photo by Marcia Martin)

There was no shortage of state ballot measures this year, but not all the initiatives and amendments were Colorado-wide; some had a distinctly local flavor. As of early Wednesday morning both Longmont-specific ballot questions — 3C and 3D — were passing according to results posted at 12:36 a.m. when 173,725 ballots were counted, which represented nearly 76% of the 229,023 registered active voters in Boulder County. In Weld County, the measures also were ahead, according to a results update posted at 12:46 a.m. Wednesday.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. Nov. 4.

Ballot Question 3C

The ballot measure asked voters to approve an $80 million bond issue for upgrades to the Nelson-Flanders Water Treatment Plant and the city’s network of water pipes.

As of 12:36 a.m. Wednesday., Question 3C was passing with 80% of the vote. In Weld County, the yes votes on the measure added up to 80% of the total 362 cast on the question, according to an update at 2:44 p.m. Wednesday.

Longmonters began paying for the upgrades in January as part of a five-year rate schedule adopted by city council in 2019, according to city officials. 

The higher rates were calculated to make sure they were sufficient enough to support bond payments for the $80 million proposal, Becky Doyle, assistant director of business services for the city’s Public Works and Natural Resources Department, said in an email last month.

The higher rates will continue over the next four years, through Jan. 1, 2024. But, Doyle said, the adopted rate increases would not be enough to fund the capital improvements without the revenue generated through a bond sale. Existing fund balances also will help pay for refurbishing of the water system, according to a breakdown of the bond issue posted on the city website.

If the bond issue fails, the increased rates would still be in place and the city would look to existing cash balances and other funding sources to pay for the upgrades, according to the website.

Ballot Question 3D

In Longmont Ballot Question 3D, voters were asked whether or not the city charter should be changed to allow longer lease terms on city-owned properties.  

The current charter, which is the governing document of the city, allows Longmont to lease public land for 20 years. The ballot measure, Question 3D, would extend that lease term to 30 years. 

As of 12:36 a.m., the measure was passing by a margin of 23,753 to 20,428 votes in Boulder County. In Weld County as of 2:44 p.m. Wednesday, it was passing with 64% of the total 348 votes cast.

The extension could allow “greater flexibility to manage development of land and facilities,” according to the city. The longer term also could allow for more private-public partnerships, as those partners are more likely to secure a 30-year loan to support their organization, according to the presentation. 

Opponents to the measure say 20 years is an adequate term that allows the city to reevaluate lease agreements while considering market rates. 

Shakeel Dalal, of Our Best Longmont, an issue committee registered with the city that is backing the ballot question, last month said such leases are typically private-public partnerships with nonprofit organizations that provide services to the community. 

“There are services that the city would like to offer that it can’t afford to … either because of the impending recessions/depression or the need to raise taxes, which is both complicated and undesirable under the current circumstances,” Dalal said.