Roberts: For our rural communities, yes on Amendment B and 7A
Happy election season. In Colorado, we are proud and fortunate to have a universal mail-in ballot election — a privilege we have enjoyed since 2013 that has received bipartisan praise from across the nation. This means that most voters already have their ballots, have the time to review our long ballot, and can vote in a manner that is safe and convenient. Voters can vote by mail, via dropbox, or in-person at one of our many voting centers before or on Election Day.
First off, I offer my utmost thanks and gratitude to our county clerk and her staff, and to our postal workers for their tireless work to make this election run smoothly and to guarantee our sacred right as Americans: the right to vote.
In addition to the names of the candidates who have offered their time and energy to serving the public by running for office, there are also many ballot questions that you will find on your ballot. I write to draw your attention to two initiatives that will impact our communities most here in Eagle County and to ask that you support them.
Yes on Amendment B
Amendment B repeals the Gallagher Amendment, a 40 year-old formula locked in our state Constitution. While the Gallagher Amendment had noble goals when it was instituted in 1982, it has become unworkable and disproportionately hurts rural Colorado. That is why 75 out of 100 legislators, including all Western Slope legislators of both parties, voted this year to put this repeal on the ballot.
The Gallagher Amendment, over time, has hurt rural Colorado as Front Range property values have grown. Out here in our rural communities, we simply do not have the tax base to adequately fund our critical services like firefighting, paramedics, libraries, and schools. In addition, the Gallagher Amendment is punishing local small businesses, including farmers.
By repealing Gallagher, we can put a stop to this harmful cycle for our local services and business without raising taxes on residential property owners. Repeal will mean the current rates — the third-lowest in the nation — are frozen in place for at least four years while a fairer formula is crafted.
I recommend voting yes on Amendment B, and so is a broad coalition of leaders: groups from Club 20 and the Colorado Farm Bureau to the Vail Valley Partnership and the Eagle Chamber to the AFL-CIO and the Colorado Education Association. I have never seen a statewide ballot initiative with this much support across the political spectrum; we all agree that repealing the Gallagher Amendment must happen.
Yes on 7A
At the end of your ballot you will find question 7A. The Colorado River District works every day to protect water supplies for farmers and ranchers so that they can continue to put food on our tables. Their ballot initiative, Ballot Issue No. 7A, proposes a modest increase to taxes (less than ¼ of a single mill; about $1.90 per year for every $100,000 of residential property value) that will generate the funding they need to continue their crucial work.
The District’s mill levy is consistently one of the lowest levies on the Western Slope, and with the District’s robust fiscal implementation plan not a single dollar will go to waste. The funding will be used to protect drinking water supplies in the Western Slope; it is an initiative that will benefit everyone living in Eagle County.
Without additional resources, the District will be forced to reduce its workforce and its ability to protect the Western Slope’s water security will be jeopardized.
Ultimately, 7A is a non-partisan no-brainer for rural Coloradans. It is supported by conservative and progressive communities, agricultural associations, conservation organizations, and chambers of commerce. With our growing population and warming climate, we must treat our Western Slope water as a precious resource and 7A does just that.
No matter your thoughts on these two issues, or any other, remember to exercise your right to vote. You can check your registration or register to vote at GoVoteColorado.gov. You can find information about where to drop off your ballot or where to vote in person here in Eagle County at the Eagle County Clerk’s website. I welcome you to contact me anytime on my cell: (970) 846-3054 or e-mail: Dylan.Roberts.House@state.co.us
Representative Dylan Roberts represents Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt counties.
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