Organizers behind carbon tax initiative fail to gather enough signatures to make the ballot

It would have made Denver the first major city with such a tax.

Particles hang over Denver during a winter inversion, Oct. 12, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Particles hang over Denver during a winter inversion, Oct. 12, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Resilient Denver, a group hoping to enact a carbon tax in Denver, has failed to submit enough valid signatures to bring the measure before voters this fall, Denver Elections announced Wednesday.

Elections spokesperson Alton Dillard said Wednesday the group needed to submit 8,265 signatures from Denver voters to secure a place on the November ballot. The group submitted 7,987 signatures, with only 6,006 of those accepted by the office.

Organizers will now have until Nov. 12 to submit additional signatures for a place in the November 2020 election. Resilient Denver spokesperson Ean Tafoya said they are planning on submitting additional signatures and meet the deadline.

Colorado will hold primary elections for its two major parties next year, but Dillard said those are not citywide elections because not every voter is eligible to participate. It’s why an initiated ordinance like the carbon tax measure would need to come before a November election.

Tafoya said the group isn’t discouraged by not making the cut this year, adding that they knew this year was going to be a “test” for the organization. He said he was proud of the organization’s work, which he said was done mostly by volunteers and with little funding. Tafoya feels “confident” the new signatures would be submitted in short time.

“I’m sure there are 2,200 more people who care about climate change,” Tafoya said. He added, “We really see this as a local Green New Deal.”

The measure would have raised an estimated $40 million its first year by taxing consumers of electricity and natural gas at a higher rate starting July 2020. Tafoya said the money will be used to fund green initiatives and programs in the city.

Dillard said there are no other pending citizen-led ballot initiatives. It’s still possible the City Council may refer ballots measure to voters this fall.

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