What to know about Fort Collins for the Larimer County Election

Samantha Ye

Residents of Fort Collins will be able to vote on initiatives related to medical marijuana and broadband internet in the upcoming Larimer County Coordinated Election Nov. 7.

Registered voters will be able to decide if the City establishes broadband internet and eliminate the need for the Fort Collins City Council to consider a peoples’ vote to modify medical marijuana regulations.

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Mail in ballots are no longer able to be accepted, but voters can still drop off their ballots at numerous locations during certain times.

When and where to vote in the Larimer County Coordinated Election:

Open 24 hours through election day:

  • Larimer County Courthouse, 200 W Oak St, Fort Collins

Open for limited times:

  • King Soopers, 2602 S. Timberline Rd., Fort Collins
  • King Soopers, 1842 N. College Ave., Fort Collins
  • Safeway, 2160 W. Drake Rd., Fort Collins
  • Safeway, 1426 E. Harmony Rd., Fort Collins
  • King Soopers, 1275 Eagle Dr., Loveland

Ballots accepted at the above locations during the following times:

  • Friday, Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 6, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Election Day, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ballot Issue 2B: City-run broadband Internet

Ballot issue 2B would give the Fort Collins City Council permission to establish a local broadband business either as a part of the Light and Power Utility or its own separate entity.

It is still undecided if the network would be a partnership with a third-party provider or a retail model, where the City pays for and runs everything.

City Council will not be able to mandate the broadband business and will not be required to provide broadband services, and potentially, they could choose not to pursue the network at all.

The network aims to provide one-gigabit-per-second internet speed for download and upload with prices starting at $50 per month for 50 megabits and $70 per month for one gigabit.

The utility would not result in an additional tax or fee, and bonds will be repaid using the revenue from service subscribers. According to the Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee, there has been no formal discussion about what the revenue will go to once the bonds have been paid off.

Under this measure, City Council can issue up to $150 million in bonds and other debts to pay for the construction of a fiber-optic network across the entire city limits and the general management area, land expected to be annexed into Fort Collins.

The two current major internet providers, Comcast and CenturyLink, run on copper cable systems which cannot support higher speeds, and neither company would commit to a timeline for developing a full fiber network system, according to the City’s Broadband Business Plan.

In Fort Collins, Comcast offers one-gigabit download speeds for $159.95 per month or the promotional price of $109.99 per month with a one-year agreement. CenturyLink currently has no gigabit options in the City due to limited infrastructure, but they are working on it. 

But, if the City of Fort Collins spends all of the $150 million, but not enough revenue is brought in to cover the debt service and the network is shut down, Light and Power customers could pay up to an estimated $16-$17 per month until the debt is paid off.

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If approved, planning could begin around December and construction could start in 2019 with services provided in that same year. According to the City, it would take three to five years to build out the network and offer services, though some areas will get it earlier than others. The network would receive updates as needed.

Ballot Issue 2C: Medical Marijuana

Currently, the Fort Collins City Code allows City Council to enforce and lessen restrictions regarding the medical marijuana article but not add or change regulations without the votes of the people.

Current medical marijuana law was a result of the 2012 citizen-initiated ordinance, Initiative 301. Citizen-initiated measures cannot be repealed or amended unless any additional provisions or changes made to the medical marijuana code go through an electoral vote. According to the Colorado Municipal League, Fort Collins is the only municipality in Colorado operating under voter-approved licensing provisions.

If Initiative 2C is passed, a section of the City Code, Section 15-491, would be amended with a third subsection, eliminating a need for a vote in such cases. 

The ordinance would allow City Council to adopt amendments or add provisions to the current medical marijuana laws without obtaining voter approval.

According to City Council, the primary purpose of this measure is to keep city laws, rules and regulations up-to-date with ones of the state. Potential updates could involve types of ownership structures, off-premise storage facilities and medical marijuana research licenses.

City Council cannot remove any other part of the current code regarding medical marijuana nor can any new rules contradict any citizen-initiated provisions. City Council is also not obligated to make changes or add new licenses.

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.