COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- On Wednesday, a week after city officials and park advocates organized a media tour in support of a proposed sales tax increase to fund park improvements, several groups expressed their opposition to the measure.
SpringsTaxpayers.com and Cheyenne Central are among the groups recommending that citizens vote "No" on the issue on Election Day.
Opposition members describe themselves as longtime advocates of parks, trails and open spaces but believe that 2C isn't the best solution toward reducing a $270-million backlog in park and recreation needs.
"The main focus here for us, is to make sure that the voters understand what it is they're agreeing to, before they decide and cast their vote, said Donna Strom, of Cheyenne Central. "We're also concerned that open spaces will suffer in favor of overall parks needs because both budgets will be combined."
Strom said that 2C's ballot language contains more than 150 words, and voters may have difficulty understanding the proposal; she prefers the previous maximum of 30 words that was increased by voters this spring.
Bruce Hamilton, another Cheyenne Central member, said that other funding options should be considered, and he criticized past park-related decisions -- such as the city's 2017 land swap which transferred ownership of the popular Strawberry Fields area of southwest Colorado Springs, to The Broadmoor.
"If there was a separate fund for open spaces and another for parks, we'd support that 100%," he said. "But after Strawberry Fields, we're skeptical and the trust hasn't returned yet."
Rebecca Marshall, of SpringsTaxpayers.com, released the following statement Thursday:
"The amount of money (the) TOPS (Trails, Open Spaces and Parks tax) has brought in through sales taxes has doubled since 2010. The city of Colorado Springs is out of touch with how citizens are struggling following the economic impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. Every penny matters to families right now. It's not the time for the city to have their hands in our pockets."
Susan Davies, director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, disagrees with opponents that open spaces will suffer if 2C passes.
"After administrative costs, open spaces would get 30%, trails would get 30% and parks would get 40%," she said.
Both sides of the issue are asking voters to educate themselves about it before Election Day.
"I actually haven't taken all of the time I need to yet, to read the initiatives," said Grace Easley, who was hiking Thursday in Stratton Open Space. "So I'm not completely decided yet."