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Open Spaces News

Posted on: June 17, 2021

Polling shows support for Arapahoe County Open Spaces tax reauthorization


Preliminary polling data obtained by Arapahoe County indicates that County residents are largely in favor of reauthorizing the Open Spaces Sales and Use Tax that is currently scheduled to sunset in 2023.

The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners reviewed the information on June 14, 2021. The survey of 414 registered voters in the County was conducted in May and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%. It found that—in light of 75% percent of County voters viewing the area’s open spaces, trails and parks favorably (47% very favorably)—78% of them would initially vote “Yes” on a ballot issue that would permanently extend the existing Sales and Use Tax (40% said they’d “definitely” vote yes). Support is strong across age, gender, and political groups, and across all geographic areas of Arapahoe County.

The Sales and Use Tax dedicates $0.25 of every $100 spent in the County (excluding purchases of food or prescription drugs) toward the County’s Open Spaces programs, and the survey asked whether respondents would support an extension of the tax that would help fund such things as:

  • Protecting and maintaining natural areas, wildlife habitat, and open spaces
  • Conserving lands that protect water quality in rivers, lakes and streams
  • Repairing, maintaining and improving regional and neighborhood parks and trails, and providing more opportunities for active recreation for children, youth, adults and older adults
  • Conserving working farms and ranches to ensure local food production
  • Maintaining and improving historic sites

Half of the revenue from the existing tax is given back to cities and towns in the County, 26.66% is used to acquire new open spaces and develop trails, 12% is set aside for competitive grants for special districts and communities, 4.1% goes toward preserving assets such as 17 Mile House Farm Park and the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and Park, and the rest helps fund maintenance and administrative costs. The tax was first approved by voters in 2003 and was reauthorized in 2011.

These survey results are consistent with the public input the County received in 2020, during its creation of the Open Spaces Master Plan, a long-term project that will lay out a vision for the future establishment, operation and preservation of all Arapahoe County open space assets. The County will unveil the completed Master Plan later in June.

The Board is currently reviewing a feasibility study from the Trust for Public Land about other Colorado reauthorizations, and the County commissioners will spend the coming weeks discussing the potential elements and timing of a sales tax ballot measure, which could come as early as November 2021.

For more information about the current Sales and Use Tax and how it supports our programs and communities, visit our website.

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