Election Preview 2018 | Aurora voters decide on medical pot, local broadband

 The Aurora Municipal Center.

Aurora voters are deciding on a handful of municipal ballot issues, ranging from medical marijuana to broadband.

There are five questions before city voters, but one was cut just before the deadline to finalize the ballot.

City council members were set to put a question about police pensions on the ballot, as the Aurora Police Association, the department’s union, and the city came to an impasse on whether to stay with the city plan or move over to a state plan. But the association said it wanted to continue negotiations.

Here is what Aurora voters will decide:

3G and 3H: Medical marijuana

Aurora’s ban on medical marijuana may soon be over. Voters upheld the ban in 2010, when a measure to allow it failed by about 4,000 votes, but locals believe public opinion has changed in the past eight years.

Council members decided to consider a 4 percent sales tax after city staff estimated a $1.8 million deficit associated with allowing medical sales. That’s based on data on sales in neighboring Denver, where medical marijuana makes up 35 percent of all marijuana sales in the city.

Aurora city staffersexpect that percentage to be about the same in Aurora, but Councilwoman Nicole Johnston said during city meetings earlier this year she’s worried that amount may be off, as more people may no longer drive to Denver for medical marijuana like they do now.

The question allows the city to raise the sales tax, but never above 10 percent.

Beyond changing views, leaders say the infrastructure from existing recreational growers will make medical marijuana successful.

Even though manufacturing and sales will be legal in the city if the measure passes, Aurora residents won’t see medical dispensaries in the near future. Regulations for dispensaries will still have to be developed.

3I: Photo red light program

State legislators weren’t able to end photo red light programs across the state on multiple occasions the past few years — the governor vetoed those measures. But Aurora voters might be able to squash the local program, which is at 10 intersections across the city.

In all there are 14 cameras that take pictures of cars running red lights. If the program stays, city leaders have hinted that they may consider expanding it. Data have already been compiled recommending several intersections that could benefit from the program.

But it also might end all together. The city decided to ask voters whether to keep photo red light earlier this year. They later edited the question to include a statement acknowledging where the revenue from the tickets goes.

More than $1 million goes toward domestic violence programs, nonprofit organizations dealing with homelessness, and Aurora’s “Problem Solving Courts” program. Councilman Charlie Richardson was the only council member to oppose the ballot question, citing that revenue as a main factor.

3J: Fire and police probationary period

Ballot question 3J asks Aurora voters to alter the city charter and change the probationary period for city firefighters and police officers. Currently, the probationary period applies to those new hires from the day they start, but the charter change would start the probationary period after required training is finished.

If passed, the probationary period would still be a year for all new hires.

3K: Restoring local control over broadband services

Following in the footsteps of nearly 100 municipalities across Colorado, Aurora is asking voters whether it should also bow out of a 2005 law that prohibits local government from offering any broadband services.

The opt-out from SB152 would allow the city to “leverage financial resources, as well as community-owned infrastructure, to improve broadband access to its citizens,” according to a memo drafted for the city by outside legal counsel.

While many cities across the state have voted to authorize the establishment of municipal broadband services, only a handful have done so.

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