According to a city news release, Colorado Springs voters passed by 66 percent (unofficially) Ballot Issue 2 in yesterday’s city election. The issue asked voters whether, without any increase in taxes, the city could retain and spend up to $6 million of revenues, exceeding the amount otherwise authorized for retention in 2016 and 2017 under the city’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) requirements. The funds may only be used for stormwater projects within city limits, according to the ballot language, and the funding will facilitate 26 stormwater projects.
“I’m grateful that city voters have chosen to invest much needed dollars in critical stormwater infrastructure. This will assist the city to meet legal obligations and improve our ability to mitigate flooding and preserve water quality. Our citizens’ willingness to address critical public infrastructure issues is a major factor in our city’s economic resurgence,” said Mayor John Suthers in the release.
The funds will be used in 2017/2018 to help the city meet its funding requirements for its stormwater program in accordance with its agreement with Pueblo County, the release states, while funding needed community projects locally. Under the agreement, the city committed to spend an annual average of $17 million during 2016-2020 on stormwater infrastructure, maintenance and programs.
“The City has a significant and urgent funding need for stormwater management, which is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against Colorado Springs by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment,” according to the release.
Total funding for all 26 projects is up to $12 million with $6 million in 2016 revenue above the TABOR requirement and up to $6 million in 2017 revenue above the TABOR limit (provided revenue exceeds the TABOR cap in 2017 by up to $6 million).
- 2016 excess revenues will fund several projects to enter the design phase in 2017, with construction anticipated to start in late 2017 or 2018.
- 2017 excess revenues will fund the remaining projects and will go into design in 2018 with all projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
“The City estimates that the total amount of revenue in excess of the TABOR limit will be between approximately $8 and $9 million, therefore the refund, after applying $6 million to stormwater projects, will be between approximately $2 million and $3 million,” the release states. “This will likely equate to a one-time refund of approximately $10 to $16 per household.”
Under TABOR, state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without voter approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and local growth. Revenue in excess of the TABOR limit must be refunded to taxpayers, unless voters approve of the retention of that revenue by the city. There are many revenue sources included in the calculation of revenue that counts toward the TABOR cap. During 2016, tourism increased significantly, residential building was on a record pace, and the city’s overall economy was healthier, which led to strong sales tax growth and strong Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) growth. City sales tax revenues grew 9 percent in 2016 and TABOR only allows the city’s revenues to grow by 2.4 percent.
For more information and all election results, visit coloradosprings.gov/election/results. Election results to be certified April 14.