COLORADO SPRINGS (KRDO) -- Local fire experts often express the need for regular wildfire mitigation, or removal of excess grasses, brush, trees and other vegetation, that could fuel wildfires.
Such mitigation was important in limiting the spread of the Bear Creek Fire on the city's central western border last fall, but funding for mitigation is generally limited.
"We have to apply for grants to get most of our funding," said Brett Lacey, the city's fire marshal. "Sometimes it's plentiful, sometimes it's nonexistent. So having a steady funding stream would enable us to do more specific planning."
That's where voters may be able to help.
Mayor John Suthers is considering a November ballot measure asking citizens to allow the city to keep around $15 million in extra tax revenue; the city would use interest on that amount to finance additional mitigation efforts.
"That would be several hundred-thousand dollars," he said.
The TABOR amendment (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) requires local governments to refund revenue surpluses to citizens unless voters allow those surpluses to be retained for other purposes.
The track record for TABOR retentions is good in Colorado Springs, with voters approving most city requests to keep extra revenue.
Suthers said that last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city didn't have a revenue surplus.
On Thursday, a fire department crew was doing mitigation work in the University Village and Park neighborhoods near the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs campus.
Additional funding could also result in more mitigation by property owners because the fire department's Firewise program -- in which piles of excess vegetation are removed free of charge -- may be expanded from once a year to twice annually.
Suthers said that he expects to ask the City Council to approve the ballot measure soon.