Delta County Sheriff's Office

Two Delta County Sheriff’s Office patrol trucks are parked on the desert. One of six local measures for the upcoming election, the Delta County Safety Improvements Sales Tax, also known as “Back the Badge,” would generate an estimated $2.9 million annually to fund public safety needs of law enforcement agencies in Delta County — such as hiring officers and expenses related to investigations.

The Nov. 5 election day is less than two months away. Delta County voters will see three school board seats, two state measures and six local measures on their ballots.

Election participation can be done three different ways: by U.S. mail, ballot drop-off and in person.

Voters should be aware that this election the voter instructions will be used as a secrecy sleeve instead of the usual separate sleeve. “We thought this would be a good roll-out election [for the change],” said Delta County clerk and recorder Teri Stephenson.

With each separate secrecy sleeve costing about 11 cents, total election cost savings for taxpayers is estimated at $2,300.

Cost to mail a ballot is 55 cents, or one first-class stamp All active registered voters will receive their ballot by mail. Ballots can be returned by mail or at a drop-off location. This year, a ballot box is being added at Paonia Town Hall, 214 Grand Ave.

“We see a high utilization rate [from Paonia] and this helps citizens not have to come down to the annex,” said Stephenson.

Register to Vote

Voter turnout in Delta County is usually less than 50% for coordinated elections; 2017 saw a turnout of 41.65%. By comparison, the 2016 general election saw a 79.34% turnout and the 2018 general election saw a turnout of 71.35%

“You’re at the local level [with voting] here,” said Stephenson, referring to why it’s important to participate in the coordinated election. “It’s what shapes our county.”

For more details on voter registration, visit deltacounty.com/154/Voter-Registration. Voter registration or making corrections to a voter record in person at a voter service and polling center, may be done up to and including election day.

On the Ballot - school board seat

Each open school board seat is for a four year term and is considered a director for the Delta County Board of Education. School board directors are voted for at large, so voters can vote in each district that appears on the ballot.

Linda Ewing is running for District 2, Beth Suppes is running for District 3, and Dan Burke for District 4.

On the Ballot - state measures

The first measure certified for the ballot would allow the state to retain excess revenue currently required to be refunded under TABOR. Titled Proposition CC, this measure states it will be to “better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges and transit.”

The second measure would authorize sports betting in Colorado and create a 10% tax on those conducting the betting. Titled Proposition DD, revenue generated from the tax would be used to fund expenses related to the administration and regulation of sports betting in Colorado and to create and fund the Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund.

Currently eight other states have active sports betting industries.

On the Ballot - local measures

This years’ local measures section is a little larger, with a total of six certifications up for vote.

The first ballot issue, 1A, is on a Delta County Public Safety Improvements Sales Tax (Back the Badge). A “yes” vote would grant a 1% county sales tax increase on taxable transactions, excepting farm equipment and pesticides.

By mutual agreement among the law enforcement agencies, estimated revenues generated, about $2.9 million annually, will be allocated as follows: Delta County Sheriff’s Office, 48% or $1.392 million; and Delta Police Department, 31% or $899,000. Police departments in Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia will each receive 7%, or $203,000, which represents a double-digit increase in funding over their 2019 budgets.

Use of the revenues would only be for public safety needs, including hiring public safety personnel, conducting investigations, addressing costs at the Delta County Detention Facility and Dispatch Center, and expenses related to public safety. School safety, improved response times and proactive law enforcement services are touted as expected improvement to service.

Law enforcement is requesting this tax to help combat the increased demand. Troubled neighborhoods, criminal strongholds, public nuisances and animal control enforcement would be targeted in an effort to improve the quality of life.

A group of Delta County community members has formed a campaign committee in support of the ballot initiative. They’ve created a Facebook page titled “Back the Badge.”

The second issue, 2A, is a City of Delta Referred Measure. Black Hills Energy’s franchise agreement is up for renewal. A “yes” vote would grant BHE the ability to use City of Delta public infrastructure to provide citizens with natural gas. The agreement lasts for 20 years.

Funds gathered through the franchise fee, .0282 per therm of gas delivered, go to the General Fund.

Three ballot issues - 5A, 6A and 7A - concern mill levy increases.

A vote “yes” on issue 5A would approve 1.5 mills, approximately $576,000 in 2020, to fund transportation for the Delta County School District 50J, with an eight-year sunset. For a property assessed at $200,000, that equals roughly $21.46 per year, or about $1.79 per month.

Monies would be deposited into the general fund for use of replacing the outdated bus fleet.

A vote “yes” on issue 6B would approve the Delta County Fire Protection District (DCFPD) No. 3 to increase property tax by 1.5 mills, or $102,007. DCFPD is also requesting, through Issue 6B, authorization to increase or decrease current/future mill levies if there are changes in the method of calculating the assessment.

This would be done so that actual tax revenues generated by a mill levy is the same as the actual tax revenues that would have been generated without the change.

The Delta County Public Library District, through Issue 7A, is requesting an increase of 2.75 mills, which would generate approximately $874,972 in annual operating revenue. More service hours, youth programs, adult education, senior services, funding for books and digital resources, access to information and technology and improvement maintenance to the buildings are being touted as expected with a “yes” vote.

Conversely, a “no” vote on Issue 7A would mean reductions and cuts.

Since 2011, funding for the libraries from both public and private sectors has declined by $667,000 — from $1,947,567 in 2011 to $1,280,713 budgeted for 2019. A significant portion of this decrease — $200,000 — is the result of an amendment to the state constitution called the “Gallagher Amendment,” which automatically lowers the amount of residential property taxes that special districts like Delta County Libraries can collect from residential property owners.

Due to declining revenue, the libraries reduced their hours from 245 service hours per week to 169 per week. The Board of Trustees for the library has identified the need for a sustainable, on-going levy funding to restore lost service hours and expand library services for Delta County.

The owner of a $100,000 residence would expect to pay an estimated $19.52 per year. Qualifying seniors and veterans may be eligible to pay a reduced amount based on Colorado’s Property Tax Exemption.

A group of Delta County community members has formed a campaign committee in support of the ballot initiative, called “Passionate About Libraries.” They’ve created a website for voters to review the ballot question language, FAQs, news and other information about the election question. To visit the website, go to supportdeltacountylibraries.com.

The committee also created a Facebook page titled, “Passionate About Libraries - Delta County.”

A sample ballot is currently available on deltacounty.com/325/Elections under “Related Documents.”

Election information:

The following are the 24-hour ballot drop-off locations:

Delta County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 501 Palmer St., Ste. 211 in Delta.

North Fork Annex Clerk’s Office, 196 W. Hotchkiss Ave. in Hotchkiss.

Cedaredge Library, 180 SW Sixth Ave. in Cedaredge.

Town of Paonia, 214 Grand Avenue in Paonia.

Important dates:

Friday, Sept. 20 - Military/overseas ballots are mailed. Delta County has approximately 120 overseas/military voters.

Monday, Sept. 23 - Starting this week, both the North Fork Annex and Delta County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will be available for election information.

Monday, Oct. 4 - Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) notices are mailed, one per household. These will include any TABOR related questions asking for a mill levy increase and will include pro/con statements, the entities’ fiscal information and the ballot text.

Monday, Oct. 14 - Ballots are mailed this week. If concerned about not receiving your mail ballot or needing it sent to a different address, go to govotecolorado.com to check your status. Log in to view your voter record, which will show if your ballot has been prepared, sent or received. You may also make changes to your mailing address up to eight days prior to the election.

Monday, Oct. 28 - Polling center opens in Delta at the Delta County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Saturday, Nov. 2 - The Delta County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will be open 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. for voter service and as a polling center.

Friday, Nov. 1 and Monday, Nov. 4 - The North Fork Annex Clerk’s Office will be open 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (will be closed for lunch from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m) for voter service and as a polling center.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 - Both polling centers in Delta and Hotchkiss will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Election Day.

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