Elbert County voters say ’no’ to 51st state initiative

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By a margin of 57% to 43%, Elbert County voters gave the thumbs down to Ballot Question 1A, the so-called 51st state initiative.

The defeat was a clear signal from voters to county commissioners to end the discussion with a group of 10 other rural northeastern Colorado counties about the possibility of seceding from the state of Colorado to form a new state.

Before election results were announced, Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland said he had received more e-mails and calls on the 51st state proposal than any other issue since taking office nearly one year ago.

The two other major ballot issues before county voters, a proposed mill levy increase to help shore up the county’s finances and a repeal of the tool tax exemption, also went down to defeat by large margins.

Ballot Issue 1B, repeal of the tool tax exemption, failed by a nearly 3-1 margin, with 73% of voters voting no.

Ballot Issue 1C, a plan to increase the mill levy on property taxes, also failed by a wide margin, with nearly 85% of county voters voting no.

The rejection of the tax increase by voters puts even more pressure on the county to find new ways to fund ongoing operations and repair or replace outdated and decaying infrastructure.

In Elizabeth, voters also failed to pass Ballot Issue 3B, a $3.8 million debt increase that would have allowed the school district to acquire needed equipment and repair school facilities.

More than 60% of voters voted no on that initiative.

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