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More than 30 Westside roads could benefit from 2C ballot issue; 2D includes Palmer Mesa Trail

       Colorado Springs city government is seeking additional tax funds in two issues on the Nov. 3 election ballot. Spending of those funds would benefit roads or trails throughout the municipality, including the Westside, based on city information.
       One proposal, titled 2C, is for a .62 percent sales tax over a five-year span that would be dedicated to road repairs and maintenance.
       The other, 2D, would let the city keep $2.1 million in revenues from 2014 that exceeded the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits and spend the money on trail improvements.
       If the 2C sales tax is approved, “approximately 1,000 lane miles will receive maintenance over the next five years,” states information
A city crew fixes a pothole last winter on a Westside street.
Westside Pioneer photo
in a city document titled “November Ballot Items Facts and FAQs.” The document was formerly on the city website but now can be found at mayorsuthers.com.
       No specific projects are listed in the 2C ballot language, but about 300 appear in a document marked as "Exhibit A" in the City Council resolution that put the item on the ballot. The document is titled “Road and Street Segments Intended and Scheduled to be Repaired or Improved.” Of these segments, the Westside Pioneer counted 28 planned jobs on the Westside over the five-year life of the tax, including significant portions of 21st Street, 24th Street, 26th Street, 30th Street, Garden of the Gods Road, Mesa Road, Uintah Street and all the streets in the Garden of the Gods City Park.
       Money from the 2C sales tax would be in addition to the annual revenues available from the 1 percent Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) sales tax. The city FAQ document asserts that “the $16 million annually [from the PPRTA] has served as the primary source of streets maintenance funding for the past several years. This is enough to resurface 2 percent or less of the city's roads each year. It is recommended that 10 percent of roads [be] resurfaced annually.”
       In a “formal public poll” by the city, five times more respondents preferred a sales tax compared with a property tax, the FAQ doc states.
       2C supporters raise an additional point in the “Summary of Written Comments for Ballot Issue 2C” in the “Notice of Election on Referred Measures” document that the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office mailed to registered voters. This is that “the increase is necessary because the mayor has proposed making major cuts in the city budget in order to resolve public safety and legal issues regarding our flood mitigation and stormwater infrastructure, and there is not enough money left in the budget to significantly impact our deteriorating roads.”
       In contrast to the sales tax, the ballot language of 2D identifies the work to be done. Eight trails are named, and
The city is seeking to spend $2.1 million from a TABOR refund to improve eight of its trails, but volunteers with hand tools - such as these Intemann Trail workers in 2014 - handle much of the ongoing construction and maintenance.
Westside Pioneer photo
the Notice of Election argument in favor summarizes that they have “damaged sections” and need signs, and “there isn't any other money available.”
       One of the eight trails is on the Westside, the Palmer Mesa Trail, which basically parallels Mesa Road from 30th to Uintah streets. According to a document on the website of the Westside-based Trails and Open Space Coalition, which coordinates with City Parks, two Palmer Mesa segments will receive attention. One segment is from Stately View (an access to the Cathedral Ridge subdivision, south of Kissing Camels) to Holmes Middle School; the other is from Blair Bridge (off North 30th Street near the Glen Eyrie access) to the Garden of the Gods Overlook. Work will consist of “full-depth reconstruction, wayfinding signage and improve[ment of] neighborhood connections,” the coalition document states.
       Regarding the 2D funding aspects, the reason the TABOR situation exists is because the city received three times more state grant money than the previous year, the city document states. “A large portion of this was fire and flood mitigation grants [which] caused the city to exceed the TABOR cap. Under TABOR, the city must ask voters permission to retain any excess revenue.”
       A “formal public poll” by the city suggested several projects for the money, and “voters overwhelmingly stated they would like the money to go towards city trails,” the document continues.
       If the money were refunded, the amount per household would be about $11, the city estimates.
       Widespread public campaigns to stop either 2C or 2D have not materialized. However, arguments have been raised that if the city tightened its belt it could fix roads without a sales tax; also, (as stated in the Notice of Election argument in opposition to 2D), that the government keeping TABOR money amounts to a tax increase, and if the government does get to use the money, a better use would be road repair instead of trails.
       The election ballots have been mailed to registered voters. They can be mailed back or dropped off at authorized locations. For more information, contact El Paso County Elections at 575-8683 or elections@elpasoco.com.
       Below are the 28 Westside street segments (as noted above), which the city has recommended for repairs in Ballot Issue 2C:
       19th Street, from King Street to Mesa Road.
       21st Street, from Cimarron Street to Lower Gold Camp Road.
       21st Street, from Cimarron Street to Colorado Avenue.
       21st Street, from Argus Boulevard to Lower Gold Camp Road.
       24th Street, Uintah Street to Pikes Peak Avenue.
       26th Street, from Cimarron Street to Lower Gold Camp Road.
       26th Street, from Cimarron Street to Colorado Avenue.
       30th Street, from Fontanero Street to Garden of the Gods Road.
       Bear Creek Road, from Bear Creek Place to Lower Gold Camp Road.
       Bijou Street, from Chestnut Street to I-25 ramp.
       Chestnut Street, from Fillmore Street to Buena Ventura Street.
       Garden of the Gods City Park - "all streets" (Gateway Road, Garden Drive, Garden Lane, Beckers Lane inside the park and Juniper Way Loop).
       Garden of the Gods Road, from Centennial Boulevard to Rusina Road.
       Garden of the Gods Road, from 30th Street to Centennial Boulevard.
       Glenn Street, from 19th Street to Stepping Stones Way.
       Gold Camp Road, from 26th Street to Bear Creek Road.
       King Street, from 30th Street to 19th Street.
       Mesa Road, from Fillmore Street to Uintah Street.
       Mesa Road, from Uintah Street to Walnut Street.
       Mesa Road, from Fillmore Street to 30th Street.
       Naegele Road, from 21st Street to concrete bridge at 25th Street.
       Ridge Road, from Pikes Peak Avenue to Garden of the Gods Park entrance.
       Rio Grande Street, from Moreno Avenue to Eighth Street.
       Uintah Street, from 19th Street to 25th Street.
       Uintah Street, from 25th Street to 30th Street.
       Walnut Street, from Bijou Street to Boulder Street.
       Walnut Street, from Colorado Avenue to Bijou Street.
       Water Street, from 30th Street to 31st Street.
       Wheeler Avenue, from Westend Avenue to 21st Street.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/13/15, updated 4/15/16; Politics: City/County)

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