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Munger/Bruce pro/con arguments on regional stormwater ballot issue

       Editor's note: For technical and legal reasons, Question 1B (proposing a regional stormwater authority) did not appear in either of the ballot-discussion documents that were mailed out to voters for this election - not the state's “blue book” nor what El Paso County has nicknamed its “TABOR Notice.”
       Question 1B affects the county only, but the TABOR Notice is meant as a “notice of election to increase taxes/to increase debt/on a referred measure,” the booklet states.
       But 1B does not call for a tax increase; it's a request for a new fee, which did not require a public vote, but proponents wanted to put it on the ballot, anyway. And when El Paso County commissioners referred it to the ballot they did so as a ballot question, which was necessary in that case and has different public notification rules, based on County Clerk's Office information.
       The bottom line is that voters did not get to see the pro and con submittals for 1B, which had been provided a few weeks ago to the County Clerk's Office.
       The “pro” was written by Dave Munger, head of the Pikes Peak Stormwater Task Force. The con was written by Douglas Bruce, the author of TABOR (short for Taxpayers Bill of Rights), which voters made part of the state constitution in 1992.
       As County Clerk Wayne Williams explained in an e-mail response to a Westside Pioneer request for clarification, “Under Colorado law we are required to send out pro and con statements on ballot issues but not on ballot questions. Because government funds generally can't be used for campaigning, it is impermissible to send out pro and con statements for ballot questions. We did receive both pro and con statements with respect to Issue 1B, but neither were published by our office.”
       To make up for that shortfall, the Westside Pioneer is publishing them here - pro first, then con. They have been unedited, except for formatting.

PRO

Vote Yes on Item 1B to Fix Flooding in El Paso County
Voter Guide submittal

Vote yes on IB - Let's fix this!

       After decades of neglect, our community's stormwater and flood-control systems are crumbling. A 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers report card gave the system an overall D- for safety and condition. It's time to take care of our community and invest in safe, reliable infrastructure.
       Based on two years of research, analysis and public input, the Pikes Peak Stormwater Task Force - nearly 200 citizens, engineers, neighborhood leaders, business people and elected officials volunteering thousands of hours - has proposed a comprehensive management plan for voter approval:

       - A regional stormwater authority that will address a list of stormwater capital projects (55% of funds), emergency needs and master planning (10%) and maintenance (35%).
       - The capital portion will automatically end after 20 years and the fee will go down.
       - Work will be funded by a user fee based on impervious surface, capped to avoid economic burden.
       - Spending on administration will be capped at 1% to minimize overhead, and work will be contracted to local vendors to maximize economic benefit.
       - The average homeowner would pay $7.70 per month.
       - The fee is fixed and will NEVER go up. There isn't even an inflation adjustment.
       - The money can only be spent on stormwater projects, and voters know what they're getting because of the project list, which has been reviewed by an independent engineering company.
       - A regional authority means all local governments will work together to coordinate efforts and maximize return on investment.
       - The authority is modeled on the successful, voter-approved Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).

       Addressing stormwater means:
       - A better local economy
       - 250 new, high-quality jobs each year (UCCS economic analysis)
       - Lower insurance rates
       - Well-maintained critical infrastructure - safer roads and bridges
       - More efficient use of taxpayer dollars because we can prevent problems
       - Less damage to public and private property

       Read the entire intergovernmental agreement, learn about the Task Force, estimate your fee and get other information at www.pikespeakstormwater.org.
       Vote yes to protect lives, protect property, and prevent floods.

       Submittal by: Dave Munger
       Co-Chair
       Citizens for Responsible Stormwater Action Campaign Committee


       CON

       TOP TEN REASONS TO REJECT ISSUE 1B

       10. No accountability.
      lB Like the RTA, another layer of government. We don't elect its board and we can never remove them! Broken promises? We can do nothing! Fraud, bribery, and theft? We can do nothing! It's un-American "taxation without representation." Their new bureaucracy will last forever!
       9. Economy/jobs.
       Issue 1B will suck $40 million out of our economy to go in government pockets for anything they want. This loss of consumer power is money business won't have to hire workers. This huge tax hike will kill local growth and repel new businesses that would bring jobs and prosperity.
       8. Bait & switch.
       Freeing up existing drainage money to be spent elsewhere is another con job to get more of your money for their social welfare schemes. Two mayors and city council members oppose 1B.
       7. Intentional neglect.
       Politicians ignored drainage repairs for decades! Instead of fixing/building drainage channels, they stalled with more studies to create a scare tactic "crisis" to demand higher taxes.
       6. Slush fund.
       Exactly what repairs will be made when, by whom, at what cost? Politicians tripled project "needs" and can alter their list after the election to reward friends and donors with more "pork."
       5. Unfair/illegal.
       Churches, non-profits, schools, and our military will pay. Rates can rise more than "promised." Issue 1B is not labeled a tax; no election notice is mailed to voters-- state law requires both.
       4. Illegal property tax.
       State law requires property tax to be a fixed mill levy applied equally to all assessed values. Issue 1B has 78 rates for different groups.
       It hurts seniors. It will last forever!
       3. Developer subsidy.
       Who is buying those TV, radio, and mailer ads to pass issue 1B? Developers and builders. They don't want to pay drainage fees for their subdivisions that created this backlog. They want to shift to our families the drainage costs for their bad planning, shoddy work, and insider deals!
       2. 1B is 2.6 times the amount voters repealed in 2009!
       We rejected their $15 million "down the drain." Now, it's $40 million yearly . That's an average of $265 yearly for a local family of four.
       And the number one reason to vote "NO" on boondoggle issue 1B is...
       1. BAD IDEA.
       Instead, a) Cut government waste, like "City for Champions;" b) Dedicate a fixed part of city and county spending to drainage; C) Demand the basics come first! Note their tricks-- an extra $6 million tax for parks, another $27 million for police and fire, another $70 million for roads, another $17 million for the sheriff. If all basic local services get an extra tax, WHERE DOES THEIR OTHER $540+ MILLION in annual city and county revenue go now? Pay raises, fat pensions, handouts, kickbacks, and county bureaucratic palaces! Reject their political scare tactics and bad priorities! Send a message!
       VOTE "NO" IN "NO-VEMBER" ON ISSUE 1B. See NoRainTax.net.

       Douglas Bruce

Courtesy of El Paso County Clerk's Office
(Posted 10/17/14; Politics: City Issues/Elections)

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