Local Voters Will Find High-Speed Internet, Pot, Money Issues On The Ballot In 2017

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Fort Collins voters will decide November 7 whether to approve a $150 million bond issue so the city can build out high-speed internet. It's just the biggest in a series of broadband proposals facing residents of cities and counties across the state.

Under the proposal, Fort Collins officials could decide to create and operate a telecommunications utility, partner with a private company or stay out of the business altogether. If the city builds its own service it would join Longmont as one of two major Front Range cities to own and operate their own broadband.

Almost 100 cities and counties statewide have taken a first step in that direction, approving ordinances that allow them to build systems on their own or partner with private companies. Roughly 20 more local governments are considering similar measures in the 2017 election.

Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League, says there's growing pressure from the telecommunications industry to limit local power to build or expand broadband, partly because those efforts could compete with private services that are already readily available in many parts of the state. The Coloradoan reports that $201,000 had been raised by Priorities First Fort Collins, a group in opposition to the city's question on high-speed internet.

In addition to broadband, Bommer said several cities are asking voters to approve the sale or taxation of recreational marijuana. Four cities are asking for taxes for economic development and tourism, and the city of Crested Butte wants a tax on vacation rentals to pay for affordable housing programs.

In Denver, voters will consider seven different measures that could total up to $937 million in bonds to pay for projects including transportation, public safety, parks and cultural facilities. In Broomfield, residents will decide on a measure requiring the city council to consider health and safety in deciding whether to issue permits for oil and gas development.

Check out other local ballot issues around Colorado: