Voters appear to have been split on two Boulder County tax measures Tuesday, approving a request to increase local funding for human services while denying more money for open space purchases.
County Issue 1A was passing with 51.6 percent of the vote at 3 a.m., when 72 percent of the projected votes had been counted. If approved, the measure will increase property taxes by 0.9 mill — or about $21 a year for a $300,000 home — for five years to back-fill state cuts in funding to human services.
Terry Benjamin, executive director of the Emergency Family Assistance Association, said Tuesday night that county voters' apparent support for the issue illustrates the breadth of the current recession and the willingness of local residents to look out for each other.
“This year, it just feels like everybody knows somebody who is struggling, despite their best efforts,” he said. “I'm proud to be in Boulder County, where citizens support these kinds of things.”
Boulder County's second tax request, Issue 1B, asked voters to increase sales taxes by 0.15 percent — or 15 cents on a $100 purchase — for 20 years to buy new open space land. As of 1 a.m., only 48.85 percent of voters were supporting the measure.
If Issue 1B fails, it will be the second time in as many years. A similar open space tax initiative was voted down in 2009 with 52 percent of voters opposing the measure. That defeat marked the first time county voters had turned down a tax to support open space since 1989.
Longmont resident Dave Larison, a longtime opponent of open space taxes, said Tuesday night that he was pleased Issue 1B appeared to be failing.
“For two years in a row now, the voters have spoken against open space taxing and spending,” he said. “The voters have sent a loud message that they don't want any more open space.”
Larison said he believes many people feel that the 94,000 acres of open space already managed by the county is enough.
But Jason Vogel, president of the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance, which supported 1B, called the possible defeat of 1B a “devastating blow for mountain biking.”
He added that if the measure failed, it will be important to understand why some past advocates — especially avid users of open space — decided not to support it this year.
“This is a challenge for the county to try and address,” Vogel said. “Let's actually listen to them and understand why they voted no.”