Fort Collins is ever changing and I feel positions and goals needs to be adjusted as the landscape changes. My goal is to always be open-minded to all sides of local issues. Additionally, I am excited about working with the experts and individuals directly involved with these topics. I will look toward the people I serve to point me in the direction that will best help them and the community. Here are a few current topics that are coming in Fort Collins and how I stand on them.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Keep Fort Collins Great (KFCG) is a .85% sales tax that was passed in 2009. The sales tax is set to sunset or expire in 2020, so the City staff and council have been working on a replacement. The tax was put into place during the recession to help with funding of core services like police, fire, roads, transportation, and social sustainability. There are two options that the council is discussing. One is to continue with the .85% by adding it to the current base rate which funds the City’s general fund. This option would allow for some flexibility on how the funds are spent and would not expire at a preset date or year. The second option is to add .60% to the base rate for core services and create a .25% dedicated tax that could be used for specific purposes such as transportation and/or social sustainability needs or departments. A dedicated tax is sunset-able and future continuation of this tax would require future approval from Fort Collins voters. Having the .60% in the base allows Fort Collins to continue the level of core services that we have come to expect. By putting the .25% as a dedicated tax it allows for more transparency as to where funds may be used and allows for the tax to expire. The second is important because if other taxes are increased or additional taxes added, then the City could make a decision to end the dedicated fund to help ease the tax burden on our citizens. Both options will have to come to the citizens for a vote by the time the current tax expires in 2020.
In December, a citizen-driven initiative received enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot for the April 2019 election. The measure would increase the pay of roughly $9,500 per year Council members and $15,000 per year for Mayor to about $55,000 per year for all positions. If this ballot measure passes it would put the Council pay at the median income of Fort Collins, which is also around $55,000 per year. I think a citizen leadership provides Fort Collins with the best individuals that want to serve, regardless of pay scale. I like the idea that we get a leader that wants to see Fort Collins succeed. I respect the citizen initiative and feel that it was put together with the highest intention, but I feel that our City leadership pay structure has served us well as is and will continue to do so into the future.
Fort Collins has always prided itself for being a very welcoming and inclusive city. Access to housing is key to allow current and future success of our city. That is why housing and housing affordability is the single biggest challenge that Fort Collins is currently facing. In my opinion, there are several reasons why we have seen prices increase over the past few years. The largest driver is demand, caused by Fort Collins’ desirability. Fort Collins is also running low on buildable land. It is hard to find more land that can be built on, but I do think there are a few moves and changes the city can make to help with affordability and attainability.
Capital Improvement Fees are additional fees charged to the developer for every new home or building built. These fees cover capital improvement projects related to Parks, Police, Fire, and Government. I understand the need for these fees, but the City has increased the fees a lot in the last three years, in some cases over 100%. So my goal on these fees is to determine what they are truly covering, explore if there are any other sources for funding, and ascertain how to position the City to not rely on them if building slows. We need to look at how to manage the fee increases now, while also looking to provide amazing services to Fort Collins citizens.
I understand this is a sensitive issue within our community, but I feel there is cause to at least study the effects of the ordinance. That is why I have advocated for a study to be completed over the last three years and a study will be finishing up in November. Once we have the data from the study we should/need to take a look to see which, if any, changes may be needed. I do support modifying or improving U+2 if the data shows this is appropriate. Regardless of the outcome, I do believe that the study should be used to have a conversation and work to strengthen the communications between neighbors.
In my opinion, I feel that this is another area that some small changes made could help with the cost of building new homes and potential costs to upgrade older homes. Fort Collins is an amazing city and is constantly leading in energy efficiency standards within our state and even at a national level. With the City’s goals of being carbon and energy neutral in the near future, this has put a burden on designs and build standards which have increased the cost to build. To be clear I support the push our climate action plan and the move to become a net-zero energy city, however, there is a balance to consider with being on the forefront of the energy standards. Inefficient and unaffordable technology does not make the greatest cost-benefit trade-off. I think the City should continue to move forward with recommending and encouraging the building of more energy efficient homes, but not force requirements that may dramatically increase costs of homes.
The cost of ownership or renter-ship continues to increase and we need to be careful to not put people at risk of falling behind. I am talking about the continuing increase of electric, water, and other utility rates and the impact they have on livability. The soon to be enacted tiered and time of use structure will impact a lot of Fort Collins resident, especially those who live in homes or apartments that are entirely electric. I have seen some estimates of current bills tripling in cost. This will dramatically impact lower and middle-class folks and may make tough situations even harder. On top of the new structure, there is an additional 5.00-5.68% proposed rate increase in 2019. This will make it even harder for folks to afford to live in Fort Collins. I think the city needs to put a brake on the charges and increases or at least be prepared to modify the increase and structure after the true impacts are identified this winter.
Art is a very important piece that makes Fort Collins great. From the wonderfully painted electrical boxes around town to the pianos that dot Old Town, and the beautiful art pieces in our parks and public spaces, they all contribute to Fort Collins’ unique character. I support the continued funding of the Arts in Public Places program and look forward to finding responsible ways to make sure this program is here into the future as Fort Collins continues to grow.
Parking impacts Fort Collins growth forecasts, developments, density and continued to push to reach the Carbon Neutral goal of 2030. The city needs to continue to look at how we can improve the parking throughout the city, not just in Old Town. Currently, the city is installing parking sensors in Old Town that will be able to give for real-time data. This will be useful in determining the vacancy rates for spots, the usage time of parking spots, and the turn over of spots. This will allow the city to make educated decisions when it comes to paid parking, i.e. how many, where and when. I agree with the city that as our population grows we need to look at the option of on-street paid parking. I feel that any change to on-street paid parking should be based on data, like that made available by these sensors, and be gradually established.
Public Transportation is needed to help our city grow responsibly. I love the that MAX is well utilized and want to work on getting the route extended to King Soopers on North College. Fort Collins needs to prioritize exploring alternatives cover the east/west routes and the citizens should be a future priority. Long term, I would like to see a bus rapid transit system, like the MAX, for the Harmony corridor. With expanding the transit services, the city will need to find alternative funding sources and options. With the MAX less than a decade old, Fort Collins is relatively new the mass transit game. I would like the city to look at other similar communities to see how public transportation and costs are managed.
Please let me know if you would like more details on any of my positions.
If elected I will work to help keep our city as affordable and attainable as possible. I will use historic and recent data to make decisions to help make it easier for our citizens to continue to have a place to call home for now and into the future.