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Voters pass Question 1; city gets OK to use capital funds to pay debt

Boulder City can now speed up payments on the city’s last remaining debt if the City Council chooses to.

Local voters passed Boulder City Question 1 that allows the city to use money from the capital improvement fund to speed up payments of the $27 million debt on the raw-water line.

The yes vote does not mean that city officials have to use the capital improvement fund to pay off the water-line debt; it simply gives them permission to designate the funds from one purpose to another.

Question 1 was the only local question on the ballot.

Council will discuss the election results during a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in its chambers.

More than 8,000 residents voted on the measure, with 4,872 voting yes and 3,487 voting no. The yes vote won by a margin of 58 percent to 41 percent.

Mayor Rod Woodbury and City Council members were overwhelmingly in support of a yes vote, but each member did not seem to have an idea of how residents voted when the polls closed at 7 p.m.

“It is what it is,” Councilman Duncan McCoy said when asked about the chances of the question passing. “I hope people vote yes because I do not see a down side in paying off your debt; but we still have scheduled debt payments if we get a no vote.”

Councilman Rich Shuman said he hoped the measure passed, but he had no idea if it would.

“The council supports a yes vote and I hope the voters will, too,” Shuman said. “But I really have no idea how the vote is going to play out.”

Woodbury said he was worried that misinformation would hurt the question’s chances of passing.

“I have been hearing a lot of false information out there saying that the question is linked to raising utility rates and that we won’t have the money to do other projects and that is not true,” Woodbury said.

Woodbury went on to say that the debt will have to be paid with or without money from the capital improvement fund, but speeding up the process by seven years would allow the city to work on big projects that residents want.

The question does not designate how much money the city has to use to pay off debt, but city officials have said they hope to increase debt payments by $750,000 starting in fiscal year 2017.

The voters overwhelmingly supported the ballot question, but it was the no voters who were most vocal at the polls on Election Day.

“I voted no on that question,” resident William Wilson said. “You don’t get to raise utility rates and then ask for more money to pay off debt that you owe.”

Aurora Brackett said she voted no because the capital improvement fund is for improvements to the city that residents want and need.

“If we are paying off debt using the capital improvement fund how are we going to afford new projects that we want”” she asked. “We have different funds for a reason and they should be used for their purpose.”

Councilman Cam Walker said that just because we are using money from the capital improvement fund to pay of debt does not mean the city is unable to do other projects.

“I have been hearing people say that if Question 1 passes we are not going to be able to afford a new pool and that is not true,” Walker said. “We can have new projects and pay off debt early and it is not like we have to use that money if we have other priorities.”

The accelerated debt payment of $750,000 is currently on the city’s financial plan and discussion is planned for future council meetings about how much money to use from the capital improvement fund for debt payment.

Contact reporter Max Lancaster at mlancaster@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR.

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