Government & Politics  May 8, 2024

Greeley to test waters on three fall ballot issues

GREELEY — Greeley’s City Council will test the waters on three potential tax issues for the November ballot.

In a work session Tuesday, the council heard from city staff and a polling firm about work that’s been done so far to determine whether voters would respond favorably to extension or enactment of new taxes for public projects.

Alex Dunn, vice president of the Aspect Strategic LLC public opinion firm, told the council that his company, along with city staff, has begun testing potential topics for the ballot. Staff asked that the council provide direction about further research.

Dunn’s presentation included information gleaned from online focus groups, which he emphasized does not represent valid survey data.

He said Greeley residents have three major concerns: growth that is “exploding,” safety and crime, and cost of living.

People like the family friendliness of Greeley, the small community feel, access to outdoors and the relative affordability of the community, where housing prices are less than those of other cities in the region.

Yet roads, police and safety, and homelessness top the list of concerns that residents have, Dunn said.

He said that preliminary research shows that residents “seem to support the food-tax renewal” as long as the money is used for parks, streets and recreation.

A proposal to issue debt in order to improve U.S. Highway 34 through the city and improve traffic flows generally was supported by those participating in the focus groups. They were more skeptical of supporting a regional bus service, he said.

A new sales tax, at a level of about 0.25% for police and fire, seemed to have support as well, Dunn said, because it gives residents a chance to support public-safety personnel. 

A similar tax dedicated to open space was seen as “non-essential” funding, he said. 

Mayor John Gates asked council members to indicate by thumbs up or down whether there was consensus to continue polling on all four of the tax and debt measures; no one supported all four. Also, no one supported doing none of the four.

He received consensus to proceed with polling on the food-tax extension, the transportation debt measure and the public-safety tax, but not the open-space tax.

Council member Deb Deboutez said that although she supported the open space tax, she understands that this might not be the year for it, given the other potential items on the ballot this fall.

Tommy Butler, likewise, said, “I will continue to vote for open space and look for an opportunity some time without all the other issues” on the ballot.

The public safety tax consensus vote showed four of the seven council members in support. Johnny Olson was opposed to polling on that issue. 

“It’s not that I don’t support this, but this should come out of the general fund; I think we have the money to do this” without a new tax, he said.

Additional public-opinion polling on three of the issues will happen in June with a council decision about the ballot topics this summer.

Greeley’s City Council will test the waters on three potential tax issues for the November ballot.

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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