Lead and part-time manager Angel Martinez refills marijuana flower Thursday, March 28, 2019 at MMJ American Dispensary in Denver.
Lead and part-time manager Angel Martinez refills marijuana flower Thursday, March 28, 2019 at MMJ American Dispensary in Denver.

Broomfield has reported a discrepancy in language between the Taxpayer Bill of Rights notice, sent out Oct. 2, and marijuana tax measure on the November ballot, which was sent out Oct. 9.

That error inadvertently decreased the amount the city and county may collect by $1.3 million.

The ballot measure, Question 2A, asks the voters to approve a 4% sales tax on retail marijuana, the revenue for which would not exceed $2.2 million in the first fiscal year. According to a statement from the city and county, it should have reflected a $3.5 million limit for the first fiscal year. The question of whether or not to add a sales tax to potential future marijuana sales remains the same.

Broomfield’s city and county attorney’s office has conferred with outside legal counsel and their initial assessment is that this will not invalidate Broomfield’s ability to impose the retail sales tax on marijuana, but that it will limit the maximum amount of revenue that can be raised to $2.2 million amount for the first fiscal year.

A moratorium banning marijuana sales, along with other weed-related bans, remains in effect until February. Broomfield City Council has yet to adopt regulations, according to statement, and city and county staff do not feel this change will impact future revenue if the measure passes.

After a resident brought this to the attention of election officials Friday afternoon, City and County Clerk Jennifer Robinson acknowledged the mistake and it was immediately reported to the City and County Manager Jennifer Hoffman, City and County Attorney Shaun Sullivan, and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, as required by the Department of State Election Rules, the statement reads.

The Secretary of State’s office advised Broomfield that, since it is a municipal ballot question, to seek legal guidance from the city’s municipal attorney as the state has no purview over municipal elections, Hoffman said in an Oct. 17 email to council.

A notice was posted on each voter booth and the front doors of the Voter Service and Polling Centers before the centers opened Monday. A notice was also posted on the website and will be posted on social media throughout the course of the election.

“As mayor and on behalf of the City Council, while we are disappointed. Residents should continue to have confidence in this and future elections and feel proud to participate in the voting process,” Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn said.

Hoffman said Robinson and Elections Manager Todd Davidson took full responsibility for the error and are “very apologetic.”

“We all appreciated Jennifer Robinson’s immediate ownership acknowledging the mistake of not using the official record (ordinance) to draft the ballot language,” Hoffman wrote.

Mayor Pro Tem Guyleen Castriotta backed up that sentiment in an email to the Broomfield Enterprise, saying council is grateful that Robinson owned up to the mistake and noted that Robinson and Davidson assumed full responsibility for the error.

Hoffman said, in her email, that once the election concludes and staff has an opportunity to “debrief the entire process,” city officials will confer with outside counsel and other elections departments across the state. That debrief will include clarifying the review process with the attorney’s office and city manager’s office, including reviews of ballot language by the department where it originated.

“This collaborative effort proved to be successful in the writing of the TABOR notices, and we will discuss utilizing a similar review process for the municipal ballot language as this is the first issue (City and County of Broomfield) has had regarding an error in the ballot language,” Hoffman wrote.

In an email to Hoffman, Castriotta said she would like to see the current ballot approval process, and what is being proposed, to “prevent this costly mistake from happening again.”

In that Oct. 17 email to council, Hoffman explained how creating and approving ballot language for elections is a labor-intensive process requiring months of work leading up to the election.

“It is a collaborative effort to draft, review, and approve the correct language ultimately used on the ballot for voters,” she wrote.

The correct language is approved by ordinance and serves as the official record to be used for both the TABOR notice and the ballot. The best practice is for the approved language from that official record, the ordinance that was voted upon, to be used to create and certify the language on the Tabor notice and ballot.

The clerk should use the approved language from the approved ordinance and is responsible for certifying that the language on the TABOR notice and ballot is correct for voter consideration with backup review by the elections manager, Hoffman said.

“Unfortunately, the best practice as outlined above was not followed by the City and County Clerk and Elections Manager for the ballot,” she wrote.

The ballot was drafted using language from a council memo instead of the official record. This led to the incorrect dollar amount for estimated tax revenues being placed on the ballot for printing and distribution to Broomfield voters. The rest of the ballot language is correct.

The dollar amount of the estimated tax revenue had changed between the June 14 first reading and the July 28 second reading of the official ordinance, upon guidance from outside legal counsel, Hoffman said. On July 28, the ordinance, including the correct language and dollar amount of $3.5 million was approved by council on second reading.

For more information visit VoteBroomfield.com or contact elections with any questions by calling (303) 464-5857 or emailing electionsdivision@broomfield.org.