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Foothills Park and Rec District mill levy gets voters’ approval

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By Deborah Swearingen

South Jeffco voters approved a 2.75-mill increase for the Foothills Park and Recreation District, marking the district’s first successful bid for a mill levy increase since 2000.

Though the ballot issue led in early returns, official results came in just before midnight Tuesday, showing 58.2 percent approval for the increase. Approximately 42 percent voted against the measure.

Of the district’s 70,576 registered voters, 23,567 cast votes in the 2017 election.

The mill levy increase will result in additional $1.65 of monthly property taxes per $100,000 of a home’s value. The tax boost has a nine-year sunset requiring another vote to be taken to extend it. In those nine years, the mill levy increase will generate approximately $30.9 million in total for Foothills. The district will have approximately $4.3 million to use for capital projects in 2018.

According to Foothills, these additional funds will help the district with:

• Maintaining and improving existing district parks and open spaces.

• Extending, connecting and maintaining trails for biking and hiking.

• Improving water conservation and energy efficiency by replacing aging systems.

• Ensuring more parks are accessible to people with disabilities.

• Maintaining a variety of recreational programs for seniors, children, youth and adults.

Foothills executive director Ron Hopp said he was surprised to see how well the ballot issue fared.

“Oh, we’re elated,” he said. “I am surprised at how well it turned out given that we had three failures in the last decade.”

Hopp attributes the success to the hard work of Foothills staff and various groups such as Friends for Foothills, who spent months educating the community and campaigning for the mill levy increase.

“It feels wonderful,” said Janice Holmes with Friends for Foothills, adding that she felt positive about the district’s chances after spending extensive time talking with residents.

“I personally feel very strongly about our parks. I’ve run miles and miles and miles in the parks,” Holmes added. “I’m glad the neighbors agree with us and supported us in this effort. We’re just thrilled.”

Before the ballot issue passed, the district — home to Clement Park, the Edge Ice Arena and Foothills Golf Course — outlined a yearly plan for the additional funding.

Some ideas the district is considering include renovating batting cages at Clement Park, replacing the synthetic turf at Foothills Sports Arena, and installing wood floors and air conditioning in the gymnasium at Lilley Gulch Recreation Center.

Foothills also outlined five years worth of projects at 32 parks and trails, the most significant of which is a $1 million proposal for the Columbine Trail.

“It needs to be completely replaced,” Hopp said in his mill levy presentation.

Prior to moving forward, the district plans to work with homeowners’ associations, neighborhoods and other Foothills patrons to help determine what is important to residents living in areas close to the specified parks.

But for now, Foothills staff and supporters plan to celebrate a win.

“We’re excited to implement the things that we said we’re going to implement, and we want to thank the community for the support,” Hopp said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.