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Colorado Springs to ask voters for sales tax increase to address backlog of parks, trails improvements

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Some of the city's tax revenue already supports operations of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, but hasn't been enough to meet growing needs since the 2008 recession.

So, on Election Day in November, the city will place a measure on the ballot asking voters for more help.

The measure will ask voters to slightly increase the city's sales tax rate from 8.2% -- among the state's highest -- to 8.3%; it would raise the revenue currently generated for a dedicated parks fund from $10 million to $20 million annually.

City officials said that the increase would amount to citizens paying two cents on every $10 in sales; voters also would be asked to extend the dedicated fund for an additional 20 years.

The parks department has a $279 million backlog of needed park and trail improvements, construction of new parks and land acquisition for more more parks, trails and open spaces.

With use of parks facilities at an all-time high, city leaders believe this is the right time to ask voters for help and they say they have wide-ranging support for the idea.

"We're hoping that people will want to continue investing in our parks the same way that Gen. William Palmer did when he founded the city 150 years ago," said Karen Palus, director of city parks and recreation."

Palus said that the city wants to follow though with a parks master plan that was formulated with feedback from citizens.

"We're looking at paving trails and tennis courts, for example, with concrete instead of asphalt because asphalt is so expensive right now," she said. "We also want to water more efficiently because watering is our most expensive budget item. We want to be able to maintain and sustain what we have, and what we add."

City Councilman Richard Skorman said that a sales tax increase for the dedicated parks fund began shortly after passage of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR amendment) in 1992.

"This isn't a huge increase we're asking for and I think people will vote for it because they love our parks, trails and open spaces," he said. "Since the pandemic, more people than ever are visiting our parks. And it's tourists, too -- not just residents. We have to take care of (parks) and avoid loving them to death. We were just rated the sixth-best place to live in the country, but we're among the lowest in funding for park maintenance."

Skorman tried to reassure citizens who fear that money from the tax increase will be allocated for other uses.

"Ever since we've had the sales tax for parks, we've never spent it on anything else," he said. "It's about a third of the total parks and recreation budget. The rest comes from the city budget and grants we apply for. In the past, we have had to re-allocate some parks funding from the city budget for other priorities. We had to do that after the 2008 recession because we wanted to focus more on public safety. But this sales tax increase is dedicated funding for parks. There is plenty of oversight by several groups to ensure that the money is properly and wisely spent."

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

19 Comments

  1. nooooooo…
    when the newly homeless are about to be born…from evictions….
    money for parks, trails, etc.-a lot of it comes from the state already.
    I could think of a lot more that the extra funds could do besides pretty up the trails.

    1. Maybe the rich should step up and start funding things for the public good like General Palmer did.

  2. Colorado Springs asks for quite a lot. How about allowing the sale of recreational cannabis and using that revenue to aid all of Colorado Springs including the homeless and soon to be homeless? How about wearing a mask and getting vaccinated or is Colorado not a national Covid-19 hotspot?

    1. I for one of many people, would like to NOT be subjected to rampant Cannabis stench, so how about keeping what is in place in certain spaces, to be avoided as desired. My Choices, are Not superseded by Yours. There are just as many studies Proving the Ineffectiveness of Masks against this virus as there are FOR. Let the Majority that CHOSE to Vaccinate, be confident in THEIR Choices, while those who CHOSE NOT to Take the CHANCE we Won’t Catch or Deal with the repercussions of OUR CHOICES. Either YOU Are ‘protected’ or not, but keep YOUR stuff to Yourself!

  3. Before we raise local taxes, let’s see how bad Bi-dumb screws up our economy and our country.

  4. General Palmer was rich, and our corrupt city council needs to stop wasting the money they have asked for and promised to use for this over and over and over again.

    There are MANY people in this city sitting too comfortably for the average citizen to have to pay even more for basic essentials.

  5. They have a lot of nerve to ask for another tax increase in this city where the price, cost of living has soared ridiculously high. No.

  6. They have a lot of nerve to ask for another tax increase in this city where the price, cost of living has soared ridiculously high. No.

  7. NO! I don’t Know where ALL the money has gone, but I believe we’ve Voted More Than SUFFICIENT Taxes IN to address “Parks, Trails” in our area. What the Politicians Want Now is to hire More & Higher Priced Employees! How about gathering up some of the Vagrants & Homeless to DO the Grunt-work with the employees already on the rolls, Instructing, supervising. Pay that spectacular $15 dollar minimum wage to those ‘poor downtrodden’ people so that they are earning and being Productive! Those who aren’t cleaning up the Illegal Camps, can be helping the citizens they’re mooching off of, For “A CHANGE”!!

    1. last year citizens voted in favor of allowing an excess amount in the general funding to go towards parks and trails..Money needs to go towards replacing WATER MAINS FROM 1951 before they blow up the next main road. Leave the forest BE the forest. When you tar and concrete over everything in a natural area- it is no longer NATURAL. Let the people who USE the trails etc here in CoSprings buy a tag for their shirts to show they are funding their own pleasures. It is disgusting to know that now only are these areas overrun with dog feces but in some cases HUMAN feces..To think taxpayers should enrich and support this behavior without controlling it and making sure users have a copy of the LAWS, I don’t think we should fund anything. Personally, I have never been to a park here or hiked trails. It’s just not my thing.Why should I pay for everyone else’s recreation ?

  8. The nerve of Colofornia Springs to ask for another tax increase when the price of everything in this city has soared.
    Don’t forget your residential storm order tax is going to be going up from $5 to $8 a month and who knows what other sneaky fees taxes are in the works.
    Con man Skormann needs to be voted out, in fact vote for any opposing candidates who run against any of the current council members to get them out, they have failed the city. Con man suthers must go also.

    1. Residential storm water tax, fee.
      Google Speech to text software is far from perfect.

  9. Economists are warning that inflation is going to soar under Biden the demented fraud puppet and the radical Marxist Democrats that now occupy our government.
    I would not at all be surprised if Colofornia Springs once again, as it has in the past, become one of America’s leading cities with home foreclosures.
    Say no to any new tax increases or fees, remember those sneaky fees that the politicians use to disguise new taxes.

  10. NO! My property taxes have tripled in the last 2 to 3 years because of housing price escalation. They got all the extra money from me in that. The government doesn’t need any more.

  11. @Laissez-faire…. Excellent excellent point how that slipped my mind is on me. They are like blood sucking leeches, they just want more more and more taxes and fees in addition to higher utility prices. They do not plan for the future and prepare for Colofornia Springs boom and then bust cycles.
    With economist warning of steep inflation soon to come the Springs are setting up to once again become a leading City of home foreclosures in America.
    It has happened before and will likely happen again.

  12. Remember when Colofornia Springs first charged a stormwater fee that was later declared illegal?
    I was one of the people who paid that fee, there were many who did not. Those who did not were never retroactively billed for it, good for them, those like me who paid were never given a refund.
    At the least those who paid should have been refunded or credited for the storm order fee that is presently being charged. Thievery, thievery that is what I call it, these people cannot be trusted to act in good faith or ethically.

  13. The city and the Mayor need to get thier priorities straight. All of these parks and trails are primarily funded and up keep by local residents, yet every weekend the parks and trails are full of out of state visitors who go off he trail and leave thier trash. And don’t forget about the parking and congested roads. Politicians like to brag that all of this tourism is great for the state and city yet. Our roads and infrastructure is falling apart. The city keeps spending money and still has nothing to show for it. They ask for money and keep building attractions to increase tourism, but they neglect the basic services. Speeding, accidents are increasing, empty lots are over grown in town and the homelessness population is never fixed they just keep playing whack-a-mole with them and keep pushing them into the residential areas and ignore them as long as they stay away from down town. The city need to become more efficient and use community out reach instead of putting thier hand out for more money that will negatively impact locals and reward tourist. I say before asking to increase taxes, how about a complete audit of the cities spending and finances. Just to make sure they are on the level.

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