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Longmont Civic Center stock photo. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
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Longmont appeared likely to be getting residents’ consent to issue up to $80 million in bonds to finance improvements to the city’s water treatment, storage and delivery system, according to early unofficial vote tallies on Tuesday night.

Also leading in that early vote count, but with a lesser margin, was a proposed municipal charter amendment that would allow Longmont to lease city-owned properties to tenants for up to 30 years at a time, increasing the current charter’s 20-year limit on such leases.

After voting ended at 7 p.m. Tuesday, online postings from Boulder and Weld counties by 9 p.m. reported that of the first 42,589 votes counted on the water-bonds question, Ballot Issue 3C, about 81% of Longmont residents approved authorizing the bond sale, with 19% voting against it.

As for Ballot Issue 3D, the measure seeking the 10-year extension of Longmont’s current 20-year limit on leasing city-owned property to other users, Boulder and Weld elections officials reported that of the first 41,338 votes counted, about 54% of Longmont voters agreed with that proposed change and 46% opposed it.

City officials had said the projects to be financed by the $80 million in water bonds would pay for critical citywide system improvements to the city’s water treatment, storage and treated-water delivery systems.

The bonds would be repaid with part of the revenues from a five-year schedule of water rate increases the City Council already approved last year — water rates that already have taken effect and would continue to be collected regardless of voters’ decision on the bond proposal.

One of the projects that would be financed: $40 million to move capacity and backup functions from the aging Wade Gaddis Treatment Plant and expansion of the newer Nelson Flanders Treatment Plant. The Wade Gaddis plant will be decommissioned.

About $25 million would go toward replacement of treated-water storage tanks, and $15 million on repairing and replacing water distribution and transmission pipelines.

Deputy City Manager Dale Rademacher said of the apparent passage of 3C: “We want to thank Longmont voters for approving the issuance of water revenue bonds to support our ability to continue providing high-quality, reliable and affordable water to the residents and businesses in our community.

Rademacher said that in addition to expansion of the nelson-Flanders Plant, the bond funds will pay for completion of the Price Park water storage tank replacement project through final design and construction. That project, which is currently in the early design stages, will replace an existing treated-water storage tank that has served the Longmont community for nearly 100 years.

Longmont Ballot Issue 3D asked voters to allow for the lease of city property for up to 30 years, which a City Council majority and supporters of the measure said would allow expanding the use of city leases to attract private development/redevelopment on public lands, in order to enable construction of assets that meet the needs of the community.

These developments could include such assets as educational facilities, a performing arts center and a conference center, 3D supporters have said.

Last year, Longmont voters rejected the same lease-length extensions proposal, but Councilman Tim Waters successfully argued last summer that the council should ask voters the question again this year.

Waters said in a Tuesday night email that he was pleased council put both the water bond proposal and the lease-length question on this year’s ballot, the latter of which he said has given voters the opportunity to allow Longmont “more flexibility in the length of leases of city owned ground for greenfield or brownfield development.”

Waters said, “This charter change positions Longmont to compete with other Boulder County municipalities for private investments in amenities to serve the public good. As one council member, I am proud of, and grateful for, the leadership and support of Longmont large and small businesses, our arts community, clear-eyed residents, and those who worked on the issue committee,” Our Best Longmont, that supporters of 3D formed to promote passage of that lease-lengths change.

Assistant City Manager Sandra Seader said of 3D, which was getting a majority of voters’ support in the tallies announced Tuesday night, that “the Longmont City Council’s work plan includes a goal to become a nationally recognized geographic center of science, technology, engineering, education, arts, and entrepreneurialism.  Together with the community, they have crafted a vision for Longmont’s future that includes these elements and more.”

Seader said passage of 3D to allow for 30-year leases would give more flexibility for council “to work with the private sector, educational institutions and other organizations to make this vision a reality, and Longmont a place where they can more easily invest. We thank the voters for their consideration on this issue.”

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