Littleton council throws weight behind ballot issues ahead of November election

Lodging tax, downtown authority and state affordable housing proposition get unanimous support


With just over a month before the Nov. 8 general election, Littleton City Council endorsed several ballot issues — and one statewide proposition — slated for Littleton voters' ballots.

Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting five of the six questions voters will be asked when their ballots begin to arrive Oct. 17. The only issue council did not weigh in on was the referendum on plans for the Aspen Grove shopping center — one of the most contentious issues before voters. 

Three of those questions revolve around creating a Littleton downtown development authority (DDA) and will only apply to a handful of residents — roughly 800 — who live within a specified downtown boundary. 

The boundary includes all of Main Street and Alamo Avenue, Church Avenue and the Arapahoe Community College campus to the south as well as some undeveloped space near the South Platte River to the west and some of Littleton Boulevard to the east. It also extends north and includes some of West Berry Avenue, Prince Street and Rio Grande Street, including the Arapahoe County government building.

The election for the DDA will be one person one vote, and entities such as LLCs, corporations or public services will need to designate one person to vote on their behalf. 

Click here to read what's on Littleton's ballot this November

By approving the creation of a DDA, voters would allow council to appoint residents who would make up a governing board that would be charged with generating revenue to be used on upgrades and upkeep of the downtown area. Along with creating the DDA, voters will be asked two questions that could approve its funding mechanisms.

One would allow the DDA to undertake tax increment financing, or TIF, a funding plan that is intended to be self-sustaining. In essence, TIF would allow for the DDA to allocate a portion of money generated each year by the downtown area's sales and use tax. The idea is that investments from the DDA into the downtown area will increase tax revenue that can in turn pay for even more projects. 

The other ballot question will ask voters to raise property taxes within the area by roughly 4% to pay for investments, though Dunahay said the DDA would still be able to operate even if a property tax hike fails.

District 1 Councilmember Patrick Driscoll — who has worked with a DDA steering committee to bring the question to voters' ballots — said the proposal is "going to be one of those game changers” shortly before voting in support of the ballot questions. 

Speaking in support of a ballot question that would set a 5% lodging tax for occupants of city hotels, motels and short-term rentals, Mayor Pro Tem Gretchen Rydin said the tax would not apply to anyone staying more than 30 days. 

Using a hotel, motel or rental unit can be "an alternative for folks who do not have housing or stable housing," said Rydin.

A ballot question that will ask voters to move a provision dictating procurement — how and what the city can buy for capital projects — from the city's charter to code also won unanimous council support. 

Littleton's procurement rules currently restrict city officials to accepting the lowest bid price when purchasing supplies, equipment and other assets for needed city improvements — a price which cannot exceed $5,000.

“Having this $5,000 limit right now is way outdated, it’s time to get up to speed, move this out of our city charter and let’s turn it over to staff," Driscoll said. "That way it will be a lot more efficient going forward if we need to raise that limit even higher."

District 3 Councilmember Steve Barr said he hopes moving the procurement to the city's code, where it can be more easily amended, "will allow for us to build transparent and effective procurement policies."

Councilmembers also unanimously voted to endorse a statewide proposal, Proposition 123, that would create a new fund — financed through a portion of state tax revenue — to be used on affordable housing projects. 

“This is just another tool, another resource, another avenue for us to help increase affordable housing within the City of Littleton," said District 4 Councilmember Kelly Milliman. 

Littleton Mayor Kyle Schlachter said the proposition also received bipartisan support from a group of metro-area mayors. He said the measure is “not a perfect solution but it’s going to help address affordable housing and we could use all the help we can get with that."

city of littleton, election 2022, affordable housing, downtown development authority, lodging tax


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