Aug 6, 2013 9:36 PM by Zach Thaxton
Douglas Bruce, the author of Colorado's Taxpayers Bill of Rights and the former El Paso County Commissioner and state legislator who served jail time for tax evasion despite maintaining his innocence to this very day, is suing the City of Colorado Springs over what he calls seven "blatant" violations of the City Charter.
The suit, filed Friday in El Paso County District Court, alleges Colorado Springs City Councilmembers are receiving benefits above and beyond their $6,250 annual stipend. Bruce, citing section 13-20 of the City Charter, says unless benefits additional to the stipend are mandated by federal or state statute, they are illegal. Bruce claims councilmembers are each receiving $8,000 for "personal consumption activities and items like travel and meetings." Bruce further alleges that City Council receives $4,500 from the City to cover the cost of snacks and beverages for Council meetings and that they are "elected officials," not "city employees" and therefore any pension they receive is a "benefit," which the Charter prohibits, the complaint claims.
Among the other complaints in the lawsuit, Bruce alleges the City's summer water usage restrictions are illegal. The complaint claims that at the time of purchase and delivery, water provided to customers by Colorado Springs Utilities immediately becomes their personal property and the customer should be able to utilize it as he or she sees fit. "He can gargle it, change his fish tank daily, flush cigarette butts down the toilet, take 20-minute showers, mix drinks, run the dishwasher half full, water house plants, refill his swimming pool weekly, or dozens of other uses," the lawsuit claims. "People have a right to use their own lawful property as they wish, even to waste it, provided only their use does not infringe on the rights of others," the complaint continues.
The lawsuit makes five other complaints, including that the City Attorney is illegally hiring outside legal counsel, that the City is illegally receiving funds from Colorado Springs Utilities in violation of voter-approved Issue 300, that sales tax vendors are illegally keeping a percentage of taxes they collect without required voter approval to do so, and that City Council is not meeting its charter-mandated requirement to confirm city employee appointees.