Oct 9, 2009 3:03 PM by Rob Quirk, Bea Karnes
The city of Colorado Springs budget crisis has been well documented-- tens of millions of dollars of cuts in the last year and in the year ahead. Warnings of layoffs and further service cuts have been issued.
Voters are being asked to raise property taxes to cover the deficit. The November ballot features 2C, which reads: "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?"
The city calculates that a family owning a home valued at $262,000 will pay an extra $126 the first year, topping out at an extra $210 in 2014.
News First 5 anchor Rob Quirk moderated a forum Wednesday evening at Penrose Library, giving both sides a chance to present their views.
The participants were Councilwoman Jan Martin, the author of 2C, and former Republican state senator Andy McElhany. One key point--the mill levy would increase over five years to solve the current crisis, but property taxes would remain at the elevated level.
Jan Martin, "At the end of five years, if we were to pull that back, we would be back where we are today. You know, sales tax revenue continues to decline in the city and there's no projections for a major turnaround"
Andy McElhany: "Whereas revenues are down in the last couple of years, they're not much different than they were four years ago. In fact, including federal funds, they're up some from where they were four years ago"
2C does not specify where the money would go. While Martin says that public safety--the police and fire departments--are her top priority, the city council is not bound to allocate the money to those departments.
Ballots will be mailed soon. They must be returned by 7 pm on Nov. 3.