Commissioners celebrate win for Ballot Issue 1A

Board members are excited to work on improving roads

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners began celebrating Nov. 5 after receiving news that Ballot Item 1A had been approved by voters.

Beginning in January, an additional $12 million will be added to the county's transportation budget, due to the measure. While the ballot item didn't increase any taxes, it did reallocate a portion of the 1% sales tax from the justice center to roads.

After two years of negotiations around road funding, Board Chairman Roger Partridge was relieved when he found out the measure passed, he said.

“It's a lot more enjoyable to work on projects when you can see it's going to be pleasing to individuals,” he said.

As of Nov. 7, the ballot measure had more than 52% of the vote.

In 2017, Commissioner Lora Thomas proposed moving 0.23% of the sales tax from the justice center to transportation.

The measure, which eventually failed, was highly opposed by the sheriff's office, which said it needed the funding for planned projects.

Now, it's years later and the day after the ballot measure passed, Thomas was enthusiastic.

“It's just really exciting and satisfying,” she said. “I'm pleased that the voters recognized that this was a wonderful win-win opportunity to get some additional funding for roads, so that the quality of our lives doesn't diminish as more people move to Douglas County.”

She said one reason 1A is a strong solution is because a large portion of the people shopping in Douglas County are coming from outside the county.

“So they are helping fix the roads that they are using,” Thomas said.

When the ballot question was approved by commissioners in September, Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said the office would remain neutral. Now, she says she's hopeful it will benefit the community.

“Although I think the sheriff's office had concerns about (1A), ultimately the people decided this and that's what's important,” she said.

And are there still concerns from the sheriff's office?

“I think only the future will tell,” she said. “The sheriff's office has needs and budget requests for things we believe are important and we are trusting that the commissioners will fund those things that are important to public safety.”

One thing the sheriff's office is hoping for is additional patrol officers, Nicholson-Kluth said.

Now that the ballot measure has passed, the county budget will need to be amended to show the change in funding, Thomas said.

“I'm really pleased that our citizens are the winners now,” she said.

In an emailed statement, Commissioner Abe Laydon thanked voters for helping make the funding possible.

“This win wouldn't have happened without you,” he said in the statement.

The official results for the election will be available Nov. 29 after the county's Board of Canvass is held.

Transportation projects that will be funded by the reallocated tax dollars are available on pages 42 through 46 of the plan, which is available on the Douglas County website, douglas.co.us, by searching “2040 Transportation Master Plan.”

“We have exceptional residents that really see that we're looking out for public interest and spending tax dollars wisely without a new tax,” Partridge said.

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