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Behind the Ballot: What a Yes or No vote on funding new Colorado Springs Police Academy means

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City of Colorado Springs is asking citizens to divert TABOR funds that would show up on utility bills to go towards building a new police academy. Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade says funding this new academy is his first step towards fulfilling a campaign promise: making Colorado Springs a safer city.

Right now, Mobolade says the Colorado Springs Police Department's space to train new recruits into full-time officers is badly in need of repairs. He adds that the growth that Colorado Springs is seeing is showing no signs of stopping any time soon, thus needing more police officers to address the public safety needs.

"As mayor of this great city, it's still the number one issue that I'm hearing is the safety of our neighborhoods," Mayor Yemi Mobolade said.

Here's how ballot question 2A works: TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) monies, which are rightfully owed as excess tax revenue back to the citizens, would deliver the starting amount needed to fund a new Colorado Springs Police Academy. The money would come off of property owners Colorado Springs Utilities bills, an amount between $21 and $28 annually.

Mayor Mobolade says renters in the City of Colorado Springs would be left off this tax credit because they would not be eligible for it. Additionally, the $4.75 million in money collected from this TABOR retention would only be the starting amount for finding, building, and staffing a new policy academy in a new space.

Mayor Mobolade says the final price tag will be much higher, somewhere in the range of $40 to $50 million dollars, but he says this would be a necessary first step to delivering on a promise made to service men and women in Colorado Springs.

"The people who wear that badge and put their lives in harms way, they're asking for more training. 84% of our officers have said, give us more training, give us a space," Mobolade said. "As their leader, it's my it's my job to deliver and help them."

Ballot question 2A has drawn the ire of Dave Donelson, a Colorado Springs City Councilman, who was the lone dissenting vote when the council voted to put this on the November ballot.

He says he's voting no because there's more questions than answers surrounding where the money will go and how much is needed to fund the entire new academy space, which to date no location has been narrowed down.

"If someone came to you and said, hey, give me some money, I'm going to buy a house somewhere. I don't know where. I don't know how much. I don't know what it's going to look like. Just give me the money now and I'll figure it out. I don't think you would do that," Donelson said.

In addition to various unknowns, Donelson claims a line item on the Mayor's 2024 budget directly contradicts the intentions for the ballot question: to put more officers are on the streets of Colorado Springs.

Under the Police Department in the 2024 "service level impacts" of the 2024 City of Colorado Springs budget, one area of reduction is going to be "reduce the number of training academy recruits in each class during 2024; keep civilian positions vacant as long as necessary to generate savings."

"I think it's quite ironic that at the same time, you know, don't slow down, just give us the money, the TABOR retention. We're going to cut the number of recruits in the training academy in 2024," Donelson said.

Election Day in the City of Colorado Springs is on November 7, 2023.

Article Topic Follows: 2023 Voter Guide Stories

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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