Denver Referred Question 2C: The one on borrowing money for transit stuff

Double protected bike lanes on South Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Double protected bike lanes on South Broadway. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

🗳️ Denver Election Guide 2021: Links to info about ballot initiatives in Denver and Colorado, school board candidates and general voting questions are all right here.

Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration wants voters to approve $450 million in bonds to pay for numerous projects throughout the city. That amount is spread out over five questions on your ballot.

This is the measure specifically asking you to approve borrowing money to pay for transit projects like roads, bike lanes and sidewalk constructions. It asks to borrow $63.3 million.

Here’s the language you’ll see on the ballot:

Shall the City and County of Denver debt be increased $63,320,000, with a maximum repayment cost of $109,048,000, with no expected increase in the city’s current rate of taxation for general obligation debt service based on the city’s projected assessed value, the proceeds thereof to be used for repairs and improvements to the Denver transportation and mobility system, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Expanding Denver’s sidewalk network by filling sidewalk coverage gaps; and
  • Improving bicycle safety and mobility by renovating existing bike lanes and creating new protected bike lanes and neighborhood bikeway lanes; and
  • Improving pedestrian and bicycle safety by installing enhanced crosswalks, adding medians, improving and installing new traffic signals, and other mobility infrastructure improvements; and
  • Reconstructing sections of the Morrison Road corridor to create a cultural and arts district; and
  • Constructing a segment of an urban trail and pedestrian walkway in downtown Denver;

By the issuance and payment of general obligation bonds, notes, loan agreements or other multiple fiscal year financial obligations, which shall be issued or incurred in such manner and containing such terms not inconsistent herewith as the city may determine (the expenditure of the proceeds thereof to be publicly reported by the city on an annual basis); and shall city ad valorem property taxes be increased without limitation as to rate but by not more than a maximum amount of $11,716,000 annually in amounts sufficient to pay the principal of, premium, if any, and interest on such financial obligations or to create a reserve for same; and shall the city be authorized to issue financial obligations to refund or refinance such financial obligations authorized in this question, provided that such refunding financial obligations when combined with other outstanding financial obligations authorized in this question do not exceed the maximum principal limits or repayment costs authorized by this question?

How would it work?

You are voting on whether to let the city issue general obligation bonds. So by voting yes on 2C, you are allowing the city to borrow money to pay for things like the 5280 Trail expansion; developing more bike infrastructure, including adding protected lanes; reconstruction at Morrison Road in Westwood; and multimodal improvements along Peoria Street in northwest Denver. It would pay for sidewalk constructions and transit and pedestrian safety improvements throughout the city.

These bonds don’t come with a tax increase; however, it’s possible that at some points in the future, the city may increase taxes to help pay these bonds back. The bond amounts include money to pay for the project, as well as what’s called a contingency; so basically, extra money providing a cushion in case the initial projected amount isn’t enough.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

Hancock and the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Brendan Hanlon, are pushing this bond package as part of the city’s overall recovery from the pandemic. The city believes these projects will help create jobs and bring more money to the city by improving and maintaining these spaces.

Political committee RISE Denver supports this and all other bond measures. Denver Elections records show no current organized opposition group or campaign for this portion of the bond request.

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