Aurora man shifts battle over arts funding to Colorado statehouse

An Aurora man who wants voters to remove the city from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and form its own arts district will turn his attention first to changing state law so that his proposed ballot initiative is legally valid.

Jeff Brown, a former member of Aurora’s budget advisory committee, announced Wednesday that county clerks in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties — the counties that encompass Aurora — told him that state statute would “first need to be modified” to put his ballot measure on firm legal ground.

Brown was about to start collecting signatures from Aurora voters to get the measure on the November ballot. Instead, he said, he will push lawmakers in 2022 to write a bill to allow voters to decide whether to opt out of the SCFD taxing district.

The seven-county arts and culture organization distributes more than $60 million annually to more than 300 operations throughout metro Denver, was formed in 1988 by the Colorado General Assembly and operates according to state law. SCFD gets its funding from a 0.1% sales tax that metro area voters have extended numerous times, most recently in 2016.

Brown wants to redirect the SCFD sales tax that Aurora residents pay on every purchase toward the creation of a new Aurora cultural facilities district — including the construction of a 10,000-seat performing arts center in the city.

He claims that Aurora residents pay $7 million a year to the SCFD but get back 10 times less in arts and culture investments.

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