City opposes ballot initiatives

Posted 7/14/10

The City of Centennial has taken an official position opposing three controversial state ballot initiatives, but has delayed taking similar action on …

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City opposes ballot initiatives


The City of Centennial has taken an official position opposing three controversial state ballot initiatives, but has delayed taking similar action on federal legislation that would require states to let public-safety employees collectively bargain over their hours and wages.

On July 12, the city council voted 7-2 to oppose Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61. The measures would place new severe restrictions on state and local government spending in the Colorado Constitution.

It was a narrow win on the nine-member council. A super-majority vote is required when the council takes symbolic votes on outside political issues. The vote came after a previous study session for which advocates on both sides of the ballot initiatives had been invited. Only opponents agreed to participate.

Many government officials of both major political parties have organized to oppose the three initiatives. Critics have described the proposed government-limiting provisions as “Draconian.”

“The exact range of impacts to all Colorado governments as a result of the three initiatives is currently unknown,” a city staff memo to the council says. “However, it is likely to be significant and include a sharp decrease in revenues and subsequently, the level of [city] services provided.”

Amendment 61 would prohibit the state from borrowing and limit local governments to borrowing for only 10 years and only with voter approval. Amendment 60 would roll back and limit property taxes. Proposition 101 would cut $2.3 billion in state and local taxes.

“We will have a very hard time meeting our obligations in many areas [if the three measures pass],” District 4 Councilmember Ron Weidmann told his colleagues before the vote.

The council decision came after Weidmann’s District 4 counterpart Todd Miller proposed unsuccessfully to delay the largely symbolic vote until closer to November’s Election Day.

“We should strike when the iron is hot,” Miller said. “Maybe 1 percent of the people pay any attention to this at this point.”

Miller and District 2’s Sue Bosier voted against the resolution.

The council voted 5-4 to delay similar symbolic action on the federal Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, an amendment to the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act of 2010.

The amendment would require states to grant collective-bargaining rights to all law enforcement and fire-protection workers. Municipal associations and business groups oppose the initiative, saying it would lead to higher labor costs and taxes.

Mayor Cathy Noon brought the resolution of opposition to the council at the suggestion of the Colorado Municipal League and Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, both of whom actively oppose the legislation.

“[This] has nothing to do with the merits, pro or con, of collective bargaining whatsoever,” Noon told the council. “… It’s essentially a loss of local control. … We’re home-rule for that very reason. We wanted local control.”

Some councilmembers were uncomfortable opposing a measure with which they were not particularly familiar. No council study session had been held on the matter, as the council had done for the proposed state initiatives.

“I don’t mind telling the senators what I’d like them to do, but I’d like to know what I’m telling them to do” District 1’s Vorry Moon told the mayor. “I don’t know enough about this to say vote for it or against it.”

Some councilmembers suggested that representatives from both sides of the issue be invited to a future meeting, but others said there would not be time due to the impending nature of the legislation.

A motion to table the resolution and attempt to schedule a study session with both sides passed 5-4. Councilmembers who wanted an immediate resolution — Noon, Bosier, Miller and Weidmann — voted against the measure.


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