Paid for with a single cent: Commerce City opens latest major project paid for by penny tax

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COMMERCE CITY, Co. -- Hundreds of people waited outside in the near 90 degree heat for the doors to open at Commerce City’s brand new recreation center, paid for by those same residents using a single penny. 

The Bison Ridge Recreation Center is one of five major capital projects within the city to happen within the last five years. The funding comes from the city’s “penny tax,” a single cent sales tax approved by voters in 2013. It raises about $15 million annually to fund major improvement projects like the rec center. 

“We’re one of the fastest growing cities in the state of Colorado and with that growth we know we have an obligation to provide services,” Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford told Denver7. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce City’s population increased by more than 20 percent from 2010 to 2017. But some residents still thought the amenities were lacking. 

“The closest rec center was Brighton,” mother of three Audra Gonzales said.

She took her son and two daughters to the opening of the new recreation center on Friday. 

“We’ll be here a lot,” she said.

Other projects paid for by the “penny tax” include a new park pool, improvements to three other parks, upgrades at the existing rec center, and the widening of Tower Road.

“We didn’t grow when most of the others were growing and now it’s kind of our turn,” the mayor said. “And we’re proud that were starting to have those amenities that other cities have had.”

Bison Ridge may be the biggest of the five projects in five years, but it won’t be the last. Mayor Ford tells Denver7 citizen committees are working to decide where to spend the future sales tax revenue moving forward.

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