Denver ballot issues: Taxes for mental health, parks among leading measures

Denver ballot measures that will raise taxes to increase funds for parks and mental health services were headed toward easy victory Tuesday night.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, a proposal to raise money for parks was up 61.23 percent to 38.77 percent in early returns. So far, more than 145,744 total votes have been tallied for the proposal.

The measure proposed increasing the cost of goods and services by 0.25 percent, or the equivalent of 25 cents per $100. If approved, the measure would provide more than $45 million per year for parks construction and maintenance.

Caring 4 Denver, a sales tax for mental health, was ahead 67.8 percent to 32.2 percent in early returns. So far, 147,566 have been counted, with 100,054 for the measure and 47,512 against.

The measure proposed increasing the sales tax by 0.25 percentage points for $45 million per year for mental health services and housing.

Denver voters also weighed in on several other ballot measures to raise sales and property taxes.

Here’s where they stood in early returns, although elections officials warned it could take days before all ballots are counted:

Property taxes

A measure to increase property tax rates for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District also appeared to be heading toward victory Tuesday evening, with the measure up 55.16 percent to 44.84 percent.

The district, which coordinates flood mapping and flood-control projects, proposed increasing the rates across its jurisdiction, which includes parts of Denver, along with sections of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

Approval of the measure would initially increase the current mill levy of 56 cents per $1,000 of assessed value by 27 cents and raise $14.9 million for projects next year. The measure also allows for the district’s board to increase the rate to a maximum $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Sales taxes

Voters also faced four ballot measures, including those related to parks and mental health, seeking to raise Denver’s sales tax.

  • A measure by the Denver College Affordability Fund, which would provide scholarships for young Denver residents to attend accredited nonprofit or public schools, was lagging 50.25 percent to 49.75 percent. The measure proposed charging an extra 0.08 percent on purchases, or about 8 cents per $100 spent on goods and services. The increase would raise about $14 million per year.
  • Voters appeared to be approving the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids initiative 57.14 percent to 42.86 percent. It proposed increasing the sales tax by 0.08 percent to provide food and education about food to young people in need.

Money for elections

Also on the crowded Denver ballot was the Democracy for the People Initiative, which would provide public money for election campaigns in the city. It was passing 69.14 percent to 30.86 percent Tuesday evening.

If passed, political candidates who follow campaign fundraising restrictions could receive $9 in city money for every $1 they raise, with a limit of $450 in matching money for each individual donor to a campaign. The city would put $2 million a year into the fund.

Denver residents were also leaning toward changing the rules for creating ballot initiatives in the city, 58.88 percent to 41.12 percent. The Denver City Council sponsored a question that would “stabilize” requirements related to the number of signatures that a ballot question needs.

The council also asked voters to decide if the director of elections should be a regular city employee instead of an appointee of the clerk and recorder. That measure was ahead 63.09 percent to 36.91 percent

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