Story updated at 10:45 a.m. Nov. 8
Brighton voters are saying no to a plan to increase the police department’s budget by $2 million a year, turning down a sales tax increase.
As Nov. 8, 3,824 Brighton voters have said no to the plan, compared to 2,188 yes votes, according to unofficial results.
Councilors agreed in August to put the proposed sales tax on the Nov. 7 ballot. If voters approve, the city would have begun collecting 15 cents on $100 spent in the city limits in 2024. That money would have been set aside for the police department, allowing them to hire 12 new department employees — most of them sworn officers.
Councilors polled residents this summer, with mostly positive results.
In an earlier interview, Police Chief Matthew Domenico said it would put a strain on the department if voters said no to the tax.
“I certainly have had conversations with the City Manager and other city leadership about those consequences,” Domenico said. “How do we prioritize services going forward? We’ll need to make sure that we can continue providing the services we do now. I think there is a commitment we’ve made to be creative and innovative and that is going to continue.”
The city began looking for ways to increase the department’s budget last year, settling on two plans to raise the $2 million, sales tax or a property tax. Both would have generated about $2 million annually. The City Council convened an outreach group to poll residents at city events in April and May and settled on the sales tax.
The ballot measure asked voters to approve a 0.15% sales tax increase, which would cost consumers 15 cents on a $100 purchase. The sales tax would have generated between $2 million and $2.75 million depending on the overall economy and retail sales in the city.
Domenico said the money was necessary to increase services. Right now, the city has 1.8 officers for every 1,000 Brighton residents, he told councilors earlier in the year. The Front Range average is about 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents.
“It’s not going to shut us down. That’s for sure,” Domenico said. “But it is going to put a real challenge on us to continue to provide the level of service our community demands.”
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