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The Longmont Group is pushing for the open space tax to be made permanent

The Adrian Open Space is located west of Union Reservoir on both sides of Weld County Road 26. The land is currently leased for agricultural use and conservation. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

A group of Longmont citizens called Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek wants the city’s 0.2-cent sales and use tax to become permanent.

Originally approved by voters in November 2000, Longmont’s sales and use tax, which is 2 cents on every $10 purchase, was extended by residents in 2007 through 2034.

Despite the tax not being abolished in many years, residents of Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek are calling for the Longmont City Council to place an item on the November ballot that, if approved, would make the open space sales and occupancy tax permanent would make.

The existing tax rate is not expected to change.

The group believes that November this year is an ideal time to ask voters to make the open space tax permanent because it is a presidential election, which typically increases turnout, and the fact that the ballot is not expected to be packed with other tax questions. If this doesn’t work, proponents could also try to put the question on the ballot for another year, prior to the tax rollover.

Last November, Longmont voters overwhelmingly rejected three ballot measures that would have raised taxes to fund a new library, recreation center and arts and entertainment center.

Supporters of making the open space sales and use tax permanent have argued that, unlike last November’s ballot initiatives, this one would not increase taxes but rather make an existing tax permanent.

Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek has collected nearly 1,000 signatures from people — the vast majority of whom are Longmont residents — who want the City Council to refer the open space sale and use tax issue to voters on the ballot in November, said Jamie Simo, who is a member of the local group.

Simo made it clear that Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is not collecting signatures to force a ballot measure, but instead to demonstrate community support for it to the City Council.

Longmont currently has 30 open space areas covering more than 3,200 acres, said Danielle Cassidy, Longmont open space manager.

The city’s open space sales and use tax brings in just over $5 million annually.

When voters first approved the open space tax, there was no set amount of open space land that Longmont planned to purchase. Currently, however, the city estimates that it has acquired 70% of the desired open space.

“Longmont’s open space portfolio also consists of water and mineral rights that are sometimes available during a land transaction or may become available at a later date,” Cassidy said in an email.

Cassidy did not comment on potential properties the city is currently looking to acquire as open space, other than to say Department of Open Space employees are always willing to work with vendors to acquire properties that meet the program’s goals, including wildlife habitats, agricultural products, conservation, community buffers, providing connectivity or a combination of these goals.

The city’s open space budget goes toward stewardship, including restoration of ecological and wildlife habitats and long-term management of open spaces, land acquisitions, land management, conservation monitoring, a volunteer and education program, plans and reports, projects, and planning and management of wild animals. , among other things.

Earlier this month, the Longmont Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously recommended that the City Council support a permanent extension of the open space tax on the November 2024 ballot.

The municipal council has not yet discussed whether or not it will adopt such a voting measure.

“Open space defines us as a community,” said Councilman Sean McCoy.

McCoy, who is also council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, thought November was a good time to move forward with a ballot question to make the open space sale and occupancy tax permanent.

“It’s not a new tax; it is a very small tax,” McCoy said. “No matter how small the tax is, we get a huge benefit to the community.”

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