It’s that time of year when we define our differences on local policy issues. It’s a heady time, with lots to analyze and debate. And, while I don’t always enjoy the tone of political battles, I welcome the “conversation” . . . and I encourage business leaders to jump into the fray. The stakes for your company, the economy and our community are too high for business leaders to remain silent!
The city of Boulder is a wonderful place for business. The environment our residents and businesses shaped, from protection of the surrounding natural lands and careful planning of our urban sphere, along with investments we make in public infrastructure and services, provide a solid foundation for entrepreneurs and established companies to thrive. Oh, and did I mention the bountiful influence of a world class research university and leading-edge federal laboratories?
Yet, we observe that paradise isn’t perfect. Business leaders tell us the high cost of local housing and long commutes to more affordable living quarters is making it difficult to recruit the talent you need to operate at full capacity. Regulatory restrictions are impinging on flexibility to adapt to evolving customers and production demands. And there are community needs, like law enforcement support, climate change impacts, and human service deficits that demand attention.
Our civic leadership, both administrative personnel and elected officials, do their best to respond. They work within the parameters of their authority to tweak the rules and regulations that nudge our community toward solutions. At times, too, the business community, often represented by the Boulder Chamber along with other partner business support groups, will cajole our civic leaders into steps that address our collective economic interests.
Every year at this time, though, our community is compelled to address arguably the most meaty issues through the annual election ballot, and this year is no exception. The focus typically is on measures that seek new or renewed revenue for civic programs. There are other measures that propose significant changes in public policy. This year features three such ballot questions of particular concern to business interests:
First is the new Boulder Valley School District bond, Ballot Issue 5A. Public education is essential to a vital economy. An educated community, with access to the most sophisticated training resources and programs, is how we ensure our next generation is prepared to assume the technical and strategic challenges that characterize the needs of an evolving workplace. Without raising property taxes above current levels, and with a strong track record of responsible and accountable stewardship of previous bond resources, BVSD seeks our funding support for capital investments that will secure this bright future for our workforce and the businesses they serve. That is why the Boulder Chamber urges business leaders to say, “Yes,” to Ballot Issue 5A.
Next, there is the proposed Boulder Public Library District tax, Ballot Issue 6C. The Boulder Chamber loves our local libraries and recognizes the necessity to secure funding that meets their valuable programing and infrastructure needs. That is why we support the allocation of additional city budget resources to our libraries and would welcome a discussion of direct investment to enhance our physical library assets. On the other hand, a proposed 3.5 mill property tax increase, which disproportionately burdens businesses that are operating on increasingly thin margins and undermines affordable workforce housing efforts, is the wrong solution. That is why the Boulder Chamber urges business leaders to say, “No,” to Ballot Issue 6C.
Third, we face a challenge to the CU South annexation, Ballot Question 2F. Public safety — there is no more fundamental role of local government. The long-negotiated CU South annexation agreement will facilitate protection for thousands of residents, along with their homes and businesses, from the dangers of South Boulder Creek flooding. The annexation agreement also provides space for up to 1,100 new attainable housing units and protects 119 acres of open space. Ballot Question 2F would overturn the annexation agreement and continue to expose our residents and businesses to potentially devastating flood safety risks. That is why the Boulder Chamber urges business leaders to say, “No,” to Ballot Question 2F.
We encourage you to use your business voice and let others know how you feel about these and other issues on the November ballot. As BOCO Cider Owner Michael Belochi said about the damaging impact of the proposed new Library District property tax on his business, “Local businesses have the ear of their employees and customers.” Let them hear you!
John Tayer is president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at 303-442-1044, ext 110 or email@example.com.