- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Aurora is weighing the benefits of becoming Colorado’s 65th county.

Supporters of a city-county movement say it would consolidate services, eliminate duplication and give Aurora more flexibility over its future. Opponents point to the costs of having to build a new jail, courts, social services and other facilities that a city-county needs. It could also mean higher taxes to fund those projects.

Most of Aurora’s 340,000 residents live in Arapahoe County, but 12 percent live in Adams County and a small number live in Douglas County.

A draft report has been compiled for city council members but is not being made public, the Denver Post reported Tuesday (http://tinyurl.com/pxap4by).

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan is among those who favor the city-county switch.

“This is about controlling your own future instead of having someone else control it for you,” Hogan said.

City Councilwoman Molly Markert said she isn’t a big fan of Aurora becoming a county. Markert called the city-county concept in metro areas outdated and not necessary.

A consultant’s report will look at the cost of building a new courthouse, a new jail and new social services facilities, as well as the cost to increase staff to handle the higher demand for services.

It’s a long process if the city goes ahead with the plan. First, the Aurora City Council would have to pass a measure to ask city voters whether they want to form a city and county. If that ballot measure is successful, then the state Legislature would have to approve it before it went to a statewide vote.

The last community to form as a city and county was Broomfield, which made the change in November 2001.

Broomfield has about 55,000 residents who were spread out fairly evenly among Boulder, Weld, Adams and Jefferson counties. Before consolidation, when people wanted to get license plates, they’d have to drive as far away as Greeley, Brighton or Golden.

Broomfield also saved money. The year before the consolidation, Broomfield residents paid Boulder $4 million in taxes while receiving $400,000 in services.

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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com