Oct 182011
Authors: Jason Pohl

As the Nov. 1 special election nears, many students may find themselves wading through the knee-deep and complex issues of tax changes and marijuana bans.

Multi-faceted issues on both the state and local level are up for decision, and the student voice is likely to play a major role in this election in the college-town of Fort Collins.

Fort Collins City Council Member Wade Troxell emphasized the direct impact these local elections play in students’ daily lives, from the tax changes to the overall lifestyle decisions.

“These are important issues now and for the future of the community,” he said.

Students seemed to agree and recognize the importance of these local elections, despite the complicated issues surrounding this particular decision.
“To a degree, I think local elections are more important than even national elections,” said Trevor Richardson, a freshman engineering major.

In addition to selecting the new Poudre School District directors, three main issues will be up for decision in the Nov. 1 mail-in election.

Question 300:

Clearly the most controversial issue on the ballot, Question 300 would ban Fort Collins’ 20 medical marijuana dispensaries within 90 days, if passed.

Since a 2009 decision, dispensaries have popped up around the city. In that time, the number of red-card holders –– those eligible for medicinal marijuana –– has risen from 500 to over 8,000 in Larimer County.

Proponents of the ballot measure created a petition movement last spring saying the surge in marijuana within the city has led to an increase in usage among youth and higher crime rates.

Those opposed to the new measure say that pushing the issue underground again will make it difficult for the more chronically ill to get their medicine in addition to driving people to the black market.

The issue has driven the election and ignited the community-wide debate about the future of pot as a recreational drug and medicine –– something that Troxell recognizes needs to be addressed.

“I believe the citizens were ignored by the previous council,” he said. “I think bringing it to vote is for the best of our community.”

Proposition 103:

If passed, this would generate an estimated $536.1 million that would be put exclusively toward public education, from preschool to college.

To do this, the sales and income tax rates would be adjusted as follows:

* Increase state income tax from 4.63 percent to 5 percent.

  • Increase state sales and use tax from 2.9 to 3 percent.

The increase would last for five years before returning to the current levels, and it would give the power to the legislature to increase public education funding.

Opponents of the plan say that it lacks general accountability of how the funding will be utilized once collected. Additionally, they say that by raising taxes, it will hinder economic recovery.

John Straayer, a CSU political science professor, said that the need is there for a broader examination of the state’s fiscal policies, but he said this is at least a start.

“It would be of considerable help for education at all levels for a few years,” he said.

Referred Issue 1A

Dealing directly with the jails in the area, 1A would extend a reduced tax rate used to fund the jails in Larimer County for 15 years.

If passed, the measure would replace the soon-to-expire 0.4 percent sales tax with a 0.375 percent sale and use tax. This, supporters say, would raise an estimated $17 million and be used to conduct more public safety and outreach programs.

Opponents say that the original decision in 1997 was geared at constructing more needed buildings in the area, and the continuation of the funds should not be used for services.

Straayer explained that the direct impact on students of this issue will not likely be seen, but he did stress that it is important that it passes.

“If we want a safe community it is necessary to upgrade and expand correctional programs and facilities to keep pace with community growth,” he said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The Issues
Question 300: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Proposition 103: Tax increase for education

Referred Issue 1A: Tax extension for corrections

The Election

Nov. 1 7 p.m. deadline

Mail-in election

Designated drop-off site: 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins

Follow the Collegian for complete election coverage

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