A bill that could result in Parker leaving the Regional Transportation District is moving forward at the state Legislature.
House Bill 21-1252, sponsored by Rep. Kim Ransom (R-Acres Green), was approved as late legislation and introduced March 31 for consideration.
The approval of the bill would be the first of several steps toward the town’s possible departure from RTD.
“I’m energized by this first step,” Mayor Jeff Toborg said. “I’m optimistic about the steps that follow”
If it passes, the bill would allow local petitions signed by residents, or resolutions from the town council, to decide if the town will then vote on their inclusion with RTD.
If the town council adopts the necessary resolutions — or if 5% of the town signs two petitions — the decision will go to a vote during either the November 2021 general election or any regular election after that.
The bill stipulates there would be two ballot questions to determine the future of the town’s relationship with RTD. One question would ask voters if the town should be included in RTD services and subject to paying taxes for it. Another question would ask if it should be excluded from both.
This is the same framing as the bill used to separate Castle Rock from RTD in 2005, Toborg said.
If neither question wins a majority of the voters, RTD’s boundary within the town will stay the same. If both questions win a majority, only the one with the highest number of votes will be enacted, according to the bill.
If a majority of the town votes to leave RTD, the departure would happen in 2050, unless the district refinances its debts sooner. Until then, RTD would continue to collect sales tax in the town. The bill adds that in that scenario RTD must “(provide) the Town of Parker with a level of service that is reasonably proportional to the amount of sales taxes that are received by the district from the area.”
That means RTD must provide at least a 50% return on Parker’s taxes given to the district, according to the bill. In 2019, the district provided an almost 30% return on the town’s tax remittance, according to data provided by RTD to the town.
Next, the bill will be considered by the transportation and local government committee, where Toborg plans to testify in support of the bill sometime in April, he said. If it’s approved there, it will then go through the state’s House of Representatives followed by the state Senate and finally the governor.
The town’s frustrations with RTD have been mounting for several years as elected leaders have been dissatisfied with the amount of services the area gets compared to how much the town pays in taxes.
“It’s just nice to get it this far,” Toborg said. “It’s been a lot of years of just talking, and now we’re taking some action so that feels really good.”
In a statement provided to Colorado Community Media, a spokesperson for RTD said the district is still working to “provide a complete picture of the impacts” of the legislation and the possibility of Parker deciding to leave.
“RTD is aware of the legislation and is working to determine the full impacts to the agency and transit service in the area if residents in the Town of Parker were to decide to leave the district,” according to the statement. “We … look forward to working with the bill authors and the Town of Parker as this legislation is considered in the General Assembly. “