A shopper carries a plastic bag of groceries on March 21, 2020, in Denver. The city is expected to delay its implementation of a plastic and paper bag fee until July 2021. 

Voters in four Colorado cities on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed local ballot questions put before them, voting to approve 11 of the 12 ranging from a tax increase to a ban on large grocers providing disposable plastic bags.

Unofficial results from the April 6 election show the latter of those ballot questions, the plastic bag ban, approved by voters in Fort Collins by nearly a 19-point margin. That question, which was referred to voters by Fort Collins’ city council, also includes a 12-cent fee on paper bags.

Voters in Fort Collins also approved four of the five charter amendments on the ballot, including:

  • organization of council and the election of the mayor pro tem;
  • city council appropriations;
  • increasing the time limit on the publication of the annual independent audit;
  • and updating language to conform with a change made in 2017.

The only measure rejected by voters would have removed the prohibition on campaign contributions and expenditures from the city’s charter.

A citizen-initiated question seeking to keep the former Colorado State University football stadium as open space and directing Fort Collins’ city council to buy the property was also approved by a wide margin.

Fort Collins voters also decisively picked current Democratic state lawmaker Rep. Jeni Arndt to succeed outgoing Mayor Wade Troxell. With nearly 63% of the vote, Arndt cruised to victory over Molly Skold, who garnered just over 25% of the vote after winning Troxell’s endorsement, and Gerry Horak, who received backing from some 12% of Fort Collins voters.

Colorado Springs voters also approved a charter amendment that would lift the 30-word limit on future city tax questions. That was put in place in the 1990s as part of the city's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, a measure backed by anti-tax crusader Doug Bruce, but the same limit was not included in the state's bill of rights, Mayor John Suthers said previously. No other Colorado city has the same word limit on tax questions, he said.

“I’m pleased that voters passed the Ballot Issue, which will make it easier for local government to provide complete information on the ballot and help voters make a more informed choice.," Suthers said in a statement Tuesday night. "The limit was unique to Colorado Springs, it limited voter understanding and ultimately did not serve the citizens.”

The city asked voters to lift the word limit because polling has shown tax questions are more likely to pass when the city can provide more information about how the money will be used. Voters duly complied, passing the question 66% to 33%.

In Durango, voters approved a lodging tax increase by a narrow three-point margin. The Colorado Municipal League noted municipalities have passed 61% of tax questions since voter approval was first required by TABOR in 1993.

Meanwhile, Grand Junction voters approved two marijuana-related questions: one lifting the moratorium on marijuana businesses and a second authorizing a sales and use tax and an excise tax on marijuana products. Voters in Grand Junction also approved a third question that allows for a change of zoning laws along two roads.

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