Voters soundly reject tax for Casey Jones Park plan

Preliminary results show ballot question losing 72-28

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Voters who live or own property in the Elizabeth Park & Recreation District overwhelmingly rejected a ballot question seeking to raise property taxes to support a proposed $45.3 million overhaul of Casey Jones Park in a May 3 election.

As of 9:26 p.m. on May 3, 4,894 votes had been tallied, for a 37% turnout of active voters in the district. Of those 4,894 total votes, 1,391 people (28.4%) voted "Yes/For" the tax increase and 3,503 people  (71.6%) voted "No/Against."

The mill levy increase that voters rejected would have doubled the portion of a property owner's tax that goes to the park district, meaning the owner of a $500,000 home would have seen a hike of about $88 per year.

At the heart of the proposal was a planned recreation center, with overall improvements proposed as:

• Community recreation center — $23.5 million
 
• Rodeo grounds and event center — $9.7 million
 
• Fieldhouse/ag building — $10.9 million
 
• Campground expansion — $450,000
 
• Artificial turf ballfield — $800,000
 
• Dog park — $17,000
 
• Homestead education center — to be determined
 
• Total — roughly $45.3 million
 

Mike Barney, the Elizabeth Park & Recreation District director, released a statement on the district's failed ballot issue following the May 3 vote:“I know this is a sad day for many residents who supported the recreation center, though ultimately the community has decided that they were unwilling to support the ballot initiative as proposed,” Barney wrote. “I do understand that the language of the ballot question itself was a matter of concern for some, and many others just do not believe the community needs a recreation center, so the board will need to reassess their understanding of resident desires and decide if the project will be pursued again on a future ballot.  In the meantime, the district will continue to serve the community with existing resources and facilitate further public dialogue to better understand the types of park amenities, programs, and services that the district should be pursuing.” 

The language of the ballot question — Elizabeth Park & Recreation District Ballot Issue 6A — was:

Shall Elizabeth Park and Recreation District Taxes be increased $680,000 annually (For collection in calendar year 2023) or by such additional amounts raised annually thereafter by an additional ad valorem property tax mill levy imposed up to 2.466 mills, resulting in a total district mill levy rate not to exceed 4.932 mills (provided that the district’s total mill levy may be adjusted to offset revenue losses from refunds, abatements and changes to the percentage of actual valuation used to determine assessed valuation ) to be used for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, equipping, operating, maintaining and renovating park and recreation properties, improvements and capital facilities, including making annual lease payments related to the same, and providing ongoing park and recreation services, including by not limited to: 

• Constructing and equipping a new recreation center, which may include an aquatics center with beach-style entry, lap pool, water slides, hot tub, and lazy river; gymnasium; fitness area; childcare area; restrooms; locker rooms; program/part room and • Improvements identified within the Casey Jones Park Master Plan 

And shall the district be authorized to collect, retain and spend all tax revenue collected from such total property tax rate as a voter-approved revenue change, offset and exception to the limits which would otherwise apply under tabor (Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution) or any other law and as a waiver of the 5.5% limitation under Section 29-1-301 C.R.S.?

In addition to voting on 6A, district voters approved Kurt D. Pinslow, the sole candidate, for a three-year term as an Elizabeth Park & Recreation District director. Pinslow received 2,582 votes in the 9:26 p.m. returns.

To see election returns, go to results.enr.clarityelections.com/CO/Elbert/112600/web.285569/#/summary

This story will be updated.

Casey Jones Park, Elizabeth Park & Recreation District, Elizabeth, Elbert County, property tax, Colorado

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