City of Boulder residents are circulating a November ballot measure petition to reauthorize the .15% sales tax — which is set to expire at the end of 2024 — and spend the revenue on city arts programs and grants to local nonprofits.

The Arts for Boulder initiative is backed by members of the arts community, including Create Boulder, who have long advocated for more arts funding.

“Boulder spends just $17 per capita annually on cultural affairs compared to $43 per capita from similar cities. That’s just not right. Boulder is better than this,” Travis Albright, the chief operating officer of eTown, an arts and performance venue and community center, said in an email this week drumming up support for the petition.

The initiative may end up competing with other ideas over what to do with the sales tax, which is expected to generate $7.25 million in revenue next year, according to city officials. It has historically been used for general purposes, such as fire, police, human services and other broad programs.

During a Boulder City Council meeting on May 11, city officials recommended a 2023 ballot measure to extend the sales tax for a “non-exclusive” purpose.

“We feel quite strongly that this is a critical general fund revenue source,” Kara Skinner, the city’s chief financial officer, told councilmembers. “If it was not renewed or dedicated to a specific purpose, it would create a budget gap.”

The Arts for Boulder ballot measure petition is the second petition to be circulated ahead of the November city election. The first, Safe Zones 4 Kids, seeks to ensure the city prioritizes clearing out tents and propane tanks used by homeless people near schools, sidewalks and multi-use paths.

Both measures need 3,437 signatures from registered voters by June 9 in order to qualify for the November ballot.

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