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Petition drive aims to change Pueblo half-cent tax - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Petition drive aims to change Pueblo half-cent tax

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A petition started by Pueblo civic activist Ted Freeman would repurpose the half cent economic development sales tax to address City needs A petition started by Pueblo civic activist Ted Freeman would repurpose the half cent economic development sales tax to address City needs

Pueblo's municipal elections will be held this November and a group in town wants voters to think about changing the way the city spends your money.

Tens of millions of dollars are sitting in savings from the economic development half-cent sales tax, and the group says they believe that money could better serve the community by improving roads and neighborhoods.

For 33 years now, Puebloans have paid higher sales taxes in hopes of improving the local economy. PEDCO tax incentives are credited with bringing big manufacturers like United Launch Alliance, Vestas Towers, and B.F. Goodrich (now called United Technologies) to town.

But more recent news isn't as flattering. In February, Express Scripts closed and 300 employees were laid off. The company never fully hired the 500 workers promised to city leaders in exchange for the millions awarded. In fact, one of the biggest recent uses of your tax dollars was the $14 million loan city council gave to expand the Convention Center -- a decision that came without voter input.

Pueblo local Ted Freeman asks, if Pueblo City Council can spend taxpayers' money on public buildings, why not spend it on things the city needs? He has a big idea for Pueblo voters:

"What we want to do is use that $21 million to fix our roads, build community centers for the kids, things of that nature," Freeman said. "We're asking them to help us get this on the ballot."

Freeman created a petition that extends the half-cent sales tax through 2027. The money collected, along with the $21 million sitting in the bank, would help fix up city roads and bridges, turn vacant schools into community centers or police substations, and update the aging police and fire department fleets.

"It's no additional taxes, and we can fix up Pueblo and that purpose," Freeman said.

But they'll need to work quick. There's only a few weeks left until the deadline of 5 p.m. on July 28th, and Freeman still has hundreds of signatures to collect. 

"We'll be working right up to that deadline," he said. See the petition here.

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