Published on the first Monday of each month by Bob Yates, Boulder City Council
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What would you pay?
By Bob Yates
A friend recently asked me what it would take to increase the level of snow-plowing service in Boulder. When I asked him in response how much extra he’d be willing to pay, he seemed surprised. It was as if the city—like the federal government—could simply print money and the only thing standing in the way of better municipal services was a printing press. That’s not how it works for cities. The services a city can provide are limited by the amount that the community is willing to pay in taxes. And, in Colorado, the amount of those taxes is always subject to a vote of the people.

Last month, the Boulder City Council considered two potential tax measures that would pay for things that people say they want. Since at least one, and perhaps both, tax measures will be presented to voters for consideration in November, this is a good opportunity to preview the issues for you.
Capital Infrastructure
In 2011, a 20-year library bond issue was expiring. At the same time, then-City Manager Jane Brautigam identified several hundred million dollars in deferred capital infrastructure needs in the city which had no source of funding. Jane proposed that the voters be asked to extend and re-purpose the bonding authority, funding $49 million to start to address the infrastructure backlog. She appointed a community task force (which I was honored to co-chair) to winnow down the hundreds of millions of dollars in projects to the lucky few that would be funded. Our committee chose several projects based on readiness and urgency, including those for streets, parks, and public safety. That fall, by a 75-25 margin, Boulder voters approved the bond extension and those projects were completed over the last decade.
While the 2011 bond re-purposing was helpful in addressing some of the city capital infrastructure backlog, it tackled only a fraction of the problem. So, three years later, Jane proposed a new sales tax, dubbed the Community, Culture & Safety Tax, which, over the course of three years, would fund a total of about $28 million in capital projects. Unlike the 2011 bonding extension, the 2014 sale tax—at the rate of 0.3%, or 3 cents on a $10 purchase—would be split between city capital projects and some community projects then being led by local non-profits. The city projects included safety and beautification improvements in the Civic Area, along the Creek, and on the Hill. The non-profit projects included renovations at the Dairy Arts Center and Chautauqua, and match funding for the creation of the new Museum of Boulder. (Disclosure: I was then president of the museum’s board, and not yet on city council.) The new sales tax, about $50 a year for the average Boulder household, was approved by the voters in November 2014 by a margin of 64-36. 
When the Community Culture & Safety Tax was expiring three years later, the city council brought it back to voters to consider a
 Read more ☞

After COVID, I will...
We’re all pretty tired of this. Some of us have contracted COVID; many have successfully avoided it, so far. One in five adults in Boulder County have started or completed vaccination. The rest of us are waiting our turn. In the meantime, we continue to deal with partially-closed schools, working from home, limited restaurant and shopping opportunities, postponed vacations, cancelled events, and missed birthdays and graduations. And the damned masks. Essential, but annoying. When will we be able to shake hands, hug, kiss? The loss of physical contact is probably the worst part. Zoom doesn’t cut it. Going on a year, and we yearn for that human touch. 
But, “light at the end of the tunnel” is a phrase that slips into nearly every conversation these days. We are closer to the end than the beginning. Or at least we hope so. We are seeing the number of cases and the number of deaths drop precipitously. At the same time, the number of vaccinations jumps by leaps and bounds. One line on the graph slides down and to the right, the other rises up and to the right, climbing a mountain that we have been desperate to climb for 12 months. Thank you scientists. Everyone can be protected. First health care workers, then 70+, then 65+, now teachers. Later this week, people 60 and older can be vaccinated, with those 50 and over becoming eligible by the end of the month. We will all get our turn. 

And then what? Once COVID is defeated, how quickly can we return to normal? What is normal? It probably won’t look entirely like 2019. There were some good things that came out of COVID. Community, access, creativity, experimentation. We should keep those, if we can. 
But, here are my questions to you: What do you miss most? What will you go racing back to? What can you not wait to do? For me, it’s a party with friends, getting back into City Council Chambers with my council peers and city staff, traveling with Katy to a place we’ve never been, Bands on the Bricks, throwing away that mask. 
Share with me by email ( what you’re looking forward to after COVID is behind us. It can be one thing or ten. I’ll gather up responses and publish many of them, without attribution, in the April issue of the Bulletin. A lot of the wishes will be similar; we have common needs and desires. But, there may be some funky outliers. 
In a few months, you’ll be able to do anything you want. What do you want?
Recent Votes & Positions:

Racial Equity Plan: At the February 16 meeting, I joined a unanimous council in adopting Boulder’s first Racial Equity Plan.  What was I thinking ☞

Mobile Homes: At the February 16 meeting, I joined a unanimous council in adopting an ordinance that strengthens legal protections for owners of mobile homes.  What was I thinking ☞
In the News:

January 30: Energy feasibility, flood mitigation, zoning among next steps in Alpine-Balsam project

February 2: New state COVID-19 dial structure draws questions from some Boulder City Council members

February 2: Boulder City Council approves statement denouncing message sent on anonymous postcard

February 4: Boulder appoints members of new police oversight panel

February 7: Boulder City Council to continue with original South Boulder Creek flood mitigation plan

February 9: Boulder Police Department master plan update now more of an overhaul

February 15: Boulder City Council OKs exploring capital infrastructure tax extension

February 16: Boulder City Council adopts racial equity plan

February 18: Boulder City Council approves additional protections for mobile homeowners

February 19: Boulder names top two city manager finalists

February 20: 'A real challenge': Boulder divided over homelessness mitigation strategy

February 23: Boulder Public Library funding question back on the table

February 25: Boulder gets first look at city manager finalists

February 27: Boulder, Xcel Energy working on partnership

City of Boulder Community Newsletter

February 2021 issue on getting COVID here
Find other recent past issues here
Next monthly issue April 5

Council Meetings & Study Sessions

Unless otherwise noted, all council meetings and study sessions and other meetings begin at 6:00 at City Council Chambers, second floor, 1777 Broadway. Information current as of first Monday of the month, but subject to change.
Confirm agendas 

Tuesday, March 2: Council Meeting  
Best Western conversion; landmarking of 3 properties; site review criteria

Thursday, March 4 (5:00-8:30)
Tuesday, March 9: (5:00-8:30)
Thursday, March 11 (5:00-8:30)

Board & commission candidate interviews

Tuesday, March 16: Council Meeting 
Micromobility device regulation; board & commission appointments

Tuesdays, March 23 & 30: No Meetings
Spring break

Tuesday, April 6: Council Meeting
State legislation; 3303 Broadway rezoning

Contact Bob 
Voice Message: 720.310.5829
Office: 1777 Broadway, Boulder (email in advance for appointment)
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