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Colorado Springs voters renew sales tax for street paving

paving Cropped

It was on Election Night 2015 that Colorado Springs voters passed the 2C measure to raise the sales tax to finance expanded street paving, and on Tuesday 65% of voters renewed the tax for a second five-year period.

The current 2C measure will raise $250 million for street paving through 2020 but Tuesday's question asks to continue the tax in 2021 at a slightly lower rate.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers pushed for the tax while campaigning for his first term, amid widespread public complaints about potholes and poor street conditions.

Suthers said he initially sought a five-year tax because he wanted to show voters how successful the project would be. He also said renewing the tax will allow the city to focus more on repaving neighborhood streets.

"I want to thank the voters," Suthers said after the polls closed. "This couldn't have happened without them. They're stepping forward to help us address our infrastructure needs."

Campaigning against the tax, however, was Laura Carno, of springstaxpayers.com.

"The original 2-C was called the pothle tax," she said. "That's how it was referred to. So people thought that it was going to pay for potholes and repave streets. When it came right down to it, only 53 percent of the money went for potholes and paving."

Carno said the rest of the money was spent on administrative costs and on concrete work related to the paving.

"If some of the money was going to be for other things, they should have told us that," she said. "Voters felt a bit deceived."

Carno said she also has received complaints from drivers that the repaving narrowed or eliminated some traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes.

"If people had known that, they wouldn't have voted for it," she said. "That was a lack of transparency by the city."

Carno said more thought should have been given to financing the project within the city's budget instead of asking voters to pay for it.

"It's also a tax that affects low-income people the most," she said.

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Scott Harrison