The majority of Lone Tree voters approved the opt-out of Senate Bill 152, according to unofficial Douglas County election results.
More than 83% of voters said yes to the ballot question.
Senate Bill 152, which was introduced in 2005, prohibits most uses of municipal and county public resources for infrastructure to improve local broadband services, or from providing these services directly or indirectly, according to Lone Tree’s website.
It limits or prohibits local governments from using public resources to provide broadband internet, said Arielle Hodgson, a management analyst for Lone Tree, during the city’s Aug. 16 study session.
“Local voters can authorize their local government to opt out of that and say, ‘We actually do want our local government to be able to use public resources to provide these services,” Hodgson said.
Opting out of SB-152 does not bind local taxpayers to provide local funds, the website states. Rather, it “removes the local prohibition on seeking grants or expending public funds to provide service.”
The ballot question asked for permission for Lone Tree to re-establish the authority to participate in, facilitate, or partner with third parties offering three types of services: cable television service, telecommunications service and advanced services. Advanced services refers to broadband internet, or high-speed internet access capability.
The Douglas County attorney’s office recommended including all three types in the ballot question, and not just broadband, to ensure the municipality fully opts out of SB-152, Hodgson said.
As of spring 2022, voters in about 118 Colorado municipalities, 40 counties and several school districts have passed SB-152 opt-out ballot measures, according to the website.
Douglas County and the City of Castle Pines asked nearly identical questions on Ballot Issue 1B and 2A, respectively. The three entities coordinated to ask for voter approval to opt-out of Senate Bill 152.
According to the unofficial results, the majority of Douglas County voters and Castle Pines voters supported the ballot issues, with 78.4% of voters saying yes to the county’s question and 83% saying yes in Castle Pines.
In fall 2021, Douglas County hired a national broadband consulting firm, HR Green, to conduct a broadband study. The study, completed in March, found a need for improved broadband throughout the county.
The number one recommendation from the study was to pursue opting out of SB-152 “to just make a lot more effective and efficient means of improving broadband services throughout the county,” Hodgson said.
According to the City of Lone Tree’s website, there are several federal and state grant programs with funding available for broadband services, and Douglas County currently has allocated $8 million of federal grant funds toward improvements.
“The county has since allocated $8 million in ARPA funds and will likely pursue more, and kind of prioritize this as something they want to do” Hodgson said. “But for them to connect to our infrastructure and spend public dollars to provide a service, we would have to opt out of SB-152.”