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Colorado voters approved a statewide lottery through a vote in 1980. Following the voters’ approval of a lottery, the General Assembly created a Lottery Division in the State Department of Revenue to administer the lottery. In a subsequent election in 1992, voters adopted the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) amendment to the state constitution. The GOCO amendment directs that lottery profits be used for parks, open space, wildlife, and outdoor recreation purposes.
As provided in the GOCO amendment, up to 50% of lottery profits are allocated to the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund (GOCO Trust Fund), up to 40% to the Conservation Trust Fund (CTF), and up to 10% to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
Since 1992, the GOCO Trust Fund has distributed approximately $1 billion in grants for projects to improve communities in all of Colorado’s 64 counties. Funds have helped connect families to the outdoors; improve local trails and parks; build outdoor recreation facilities; improve river access and quality; and preserve ranchlands, water resources, wildlife habitat, and view corridors.
Since 1983, the CTF has distributed approximately $1 billion in grants to counties, municipalities, and special districts for acquisition, development, and maintenance of new park and conservation sites for the public. The Colorado Lottery Division is critical to the administration of the CTF and GOCO programs, and the Division is set to expire in 2024 unless extended by the General Assembly. The General Assembly will consider legislation to extend the Division during the 2018 legislative session.
CTF and GOCO funds are important to Arapahoe County, its municipalities, and its recreation districts. The South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, Arapahoe Parks and Recreation District, City of Englewood, City of Centennial, and City of Cherry Hills Village have already issued support of legislation to extend the Lottery Division. Many other Arapahoe County cities and special districts are currently considering issuing support, including the City of Aurora.
Arapahoe County, its cities, and its recreation districts have received CTF distributions totaling $137,535,274. In addition, GOCO has invested at least $29,790,146 million in Arapahoe County since 1992. Recent GOCO investments in Arapahoe County include grants for the following projects: High Line Canal Vision Plan; River Run along the South Platte (multiple grants were awarded to this project); Buckley Buffer Project in Aurora; Triple Creek Project in Aurora (multiple grants were awarded to this project); and Inspire Initiative in Sheridan.
Arapahoe County Open Spaces (including the Arapahoe County Recreation District) relies on CTF dollars to pay the debt service on the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds facility. CTF funds are an important and flexible source of funding for Open Spaces because they can pay for active recreation improvements and operations and maintenance associated with eligible sites. The Open Space Sales and Use Tax is more restrictive, so CTF funds frequently help fill funding gaps.