Colorado Springs Property Tax Measure, 2009
The measure proposed raising property tax every year for the next five years. The increase would start at $126 annually and end at $210, according to the average home price of $262,000 in Colorado Springs. According to city officials, the tax measure, if approved, is estimated to generate $27.6 million in additional revenue in 2010 and $46 million in additional revenue in 2014.
According to City Council Member Jan Martin, if the property tax measure is not approved in November, the city will be forced to make cuts. Some of the proposed budget cuts include closing all seven city pools, community centers and the city transit service. Additionally, cuts may include police and fire positions.
The measure was defeated.
Many believed the tax was doomed from the start, the bad economy played the major roll in peoples decisions. The city just stated that since the people chose not to raise taxes they will be forced to shut down facilities and even cut bus services. Colorado Springs is already a conservative city, so that also worked against this measures passage. Proponents say that what voters were telling the city was that they need to cut back on the size of the government.
The ballot language read as follows:
Shall city taxes be increased $46,000,000 annually by increasing 2009 general property tax 6.00 mills, 1.00 additional mill per year for four years, continuing thereafter, constituting voter-approved revenue change?
In support of the measure, residents and city council members have formed a campaign specific to the effort, "A City Worth Fighting For." Early in the campaign the group argued that if the measure was approved the city would "continue to have one of the lowest property tax rates in the state," however in September 2009 the group removed the statement from their website. The group now argues that Colorado Springs, "Even with the full implementation of 2C in 2014, Colorado Springs will continue to have a low tax burden per capita, when compared to other similar size cities on the Front Range."
Councilwoman Jan Martin, in a televised debate October 7th, stated that the tax comes down to stabilization of the city's income base, otherwise cuts to public facilities and services will be the result. City officials see it as a long term solution to their problem. Fire fighters supported the debate, noting that at least 35 firemen positions would be cut next year if the measure is not passed and funding is not provided sufficiently for the Colorado Springs fire department.
A former councilwoman, Ellen McNalley stated that if this tax is not passed then disaster will come to the city, it will not be able to fund the proposed budget it needs to operate. The city can no longer rely on the sales tax alone that had supported it since 2006. Jan Martin continues her campaign to educate voters, helping them to understand that a tax is not necessarily a guaranteed bad thing, sometimes it is needed.
On the opposite side of the argument, there are issues with city spending that some residents have brought up as a reason to vote "No" on 2C. The fact that the city government claims multi-million dollar shortfalls in their budget, but then proceed to spend millions on new projects within the same budget year. Proponents say the tax is to get the city over the recession currently in the economy, but this tax does not have a limit, as many taxes do.
- The Gazette, "Council weighing TABOR, tax measures," August 24, 2009
- KRDO, "Campaign to Support Property Tax Ballot Question Begins," August 27, 2009
- El Paso County, "November 3, 2009 election results," accessed November 5, 2009
- The Gazette, "Crushing defeat delivers a message: Shrink government," November 3, 2009
- El Paso County, "Sample Ballot, November 3, 2009," accessed November 5, 2009 (dead link)
- The Gazette, "Tax hike advocates hedge campaign claim," September 16, 2009
- The Gazette, "Debate over proposed tax focuses on its effect on business," October 7, 2009
- The Huffington Post, "City Hall Showdown in Colorado Springs," October 20, 2009
- KKTV.com, "The Debate Over 2C," October 12, 2009