In a special city election as part of the coordinated election of Nov. 3, Colorado Springs voters will be asked to increase sales tax by .62 percent for road repairs and maintenance and to keep $2.1 million in revenue from fiscal year 2014 that exceeded the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits, according to a news release sent by the city. The $2.1 million will be used for parks and trails maintenance.

Colorado Springs City Council approved a resolution proposed by Mayor John Suthers today declaring the intent of the city to place the two items for voters on the ballot.

“To a large extent, these questions are going to determine how we move our city forward in the next few years,” said Suthers. “Sixty-two percent of our roads are in a state of rapid deterioration, and we’ve heard loud and clear that this is the biggest concern for our residents. It’s also a concern in terms of economic development and attracting new businesses to Colorado Springs.”

“Although the interests of our citizens vary, one message is consistent: citizens are tired of the condition of our roads. I agree. Our roads must be fixed. That is why I unequivocally support the mayor’s proposal. With this ballot measure, the future of our roads is in the hands of the voters,” said Council President Merv Bennett.

In a formal public poll of Colorado Springs voters on possible solutions to address the city’s stormwater and streets needs, 58 percent said that if the mayor and city council could use funds from the existing city budget to pay for necessary stormwater repairs, they would be willing to pay a higher sales or property tax to be used solely for road repairs, according to the release. Voters preferred funding repairs through a sales tax (69 percent), to a property tax (14 percent) to raise $50 million annually.

Voters were also polled about whether the $2.1 million in revenues from fiscal year 2014 that exceeded TABOR should be refunded to the residents or if the city should be allowed to retain the funds for other city projects. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they would support the city retaining the excess revenues, and 43 percent selected funding trail improvements in city parks as a preferred potential project. The city exceeded TABOR limits in 2014 because it received several post-fire and flood mitigation grants from the State of Colorado.

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Together, Suthers and the Council will finalize ballot language for the two questions and provide it to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder by the Sept. 4 deadline.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Colorado Springs already has the 9th highest local sales tax rate among large cities in the country. This would jump us to 3rd. Why not seek funding from CDOT, or re-budget existing taxes? Plenty of cities have similar tax rates to us and have beautiful roads. If it’s for emergency catch-up because of low funding during the financial crisis and flooding, why not put an expiration on the raised tax rate?

    I’d be happy to pay an additional temporary tax to play catch-up, but once upon a time (about 10 years ago), we managed to maintain the same roads to a high level of quality with lower taxes than we have now. Maybe reconsider who is running city engineering’s roads division to help manage costs better.

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