2023 Local Ballot Measures
At TPL, we help communities design and win ballot measures that create new public funding for parks and conservation. This year, we supported six ballot measures in five states. On November 7, 2023, voters across the nation approved five of those, resulting in $1.2 billion for the outdoors.
In 2016, the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Fund was established as part of the approval of a dedicated 10-year, .3 percent sales tax. This November, voters decided to permanently extend the OLRT Program to continue to invest in protecting open space, working farms and ranches, and wildlife habitat. The measure received a 73% Yes vote. Additionally, Grand County has identified wildland fire prevention and mitigation projects and a broader range of water quality protection and trail projects as new needs. The .3 percent sales tax will generate an estimated $67 million over 20 years.
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This November, voters in the City of Louisville extended and increased the city’s program to acquire, improve, restore, preserve, protect, and maintain open space land by 69 percent. The measure, which is estimated to generate $38 million over 10 years, will also provide funding to mitigate wildfire risks within open space areas.
This November, voters in Billings, Montana, will decide whether to approve a $143 million bond. If passed, funds will be used for new and capital improvements to parks, trails, and playgrounds throughout the city. If approved by the voters, the new bond would also enhance equitable park access in Billings. The Billings measure would also provide local matching funds to unlock state and federal grants and to create a new recreation center on the south side of the city. Click here for more information.
Following the successful measures in New Paltz in 2020 and Gardiner and Marbletown in 2022, this year Chatham became the first municipality in Columbia County to adopt a new real estate transfer tax to support a local Community Preservation Fund. Approved by 70 percent, the fund will be used to protect the town’s river and streams, drinking water source, working farms, and wildlife habitat. The 1.5 percent real estate transfer tax would generate an estimated $7.5 million over 20 years.
By 80 percent, voters in Charleston, South Carolina, approved a $70 million bond to improve their city’s parks and recreation facilities. The proposal includes projects in each of the city’s twelve Council districts. Based on public input gathered in the city’s 2022 parks master plan, the effort includes new or improved passive parks, playgrounds, sports fields, walking and biking trails, aquatic centers, indoor recreational spaces and courts for tennis, pickleball and basketball. Click here for more information.
This year Texas is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its state parks system. To mark the centennial, Texas voters statewide approved a state constitutional amendment to create the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund. The measure passed by 77 percent. The $1 billion fund will help secure new state parks for future generations of Texans to explore and enjoy without increasing taxes. Investing in parks conserves land and water resources, which protects Texas’ quality of life so future generations can enjoy the state’s land, water, and natural beauty. Click here for more information.
Passing ballot measures that result in real change is no easy task. To do it, we offer a comprehensive suite of campaign services on a case-by-case basis. These include campaign planning, management, and fundraising; selecting and directing pollsters and other consultants; writing and producing digital, direct-mail, television, and radio advertisements; overseeing public education and get-out-the-vote programs; and managing compliance with campaign finance and lobbying registration and reporting.
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