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Bruce sues County over Sheriff sales taxes - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Bruce sues County over Sheriff sales taxes

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

Douglas Bruce thinks El Paso County stole your money by keeping more than it promised to under 1A sheriff's public safety sales tax increase in 2013. The County collected $17,898,721 in new revenue under the tax increase in 2013, which is greater than the $17 million stated in the ballot question.

"The County just wants to keep the money that it consciously, intentionally stole and they knew it," Bruce said. "They knew that they'd taken the money."

He sued last week claiming the County violated the Taxpayers Bill of Rights by not refunding that excess revenue or asking voters for permission to keep it. Bruce said he called County Attorney Amy Folsom in 2014 to warn her that a refund was due.

"I said you have to put an issue on the ballot to ask to keep the money. It says so right in there, "except by later voter approval" ... you have to ask to keep this money. She ignored it."

His suit could face a factual hurdle in court. The ballot language contains a clause that state that the money collected can be spent "without limitation" of the TABOR amendment.

County spokesman Dave Rose told News 5 in a statement their $17 million estimate was their best guess given data available at the time.
He thinks voters are more discerning than people give them credit for.

"They understood that they were approving a 0.23 percent sales tax for critical public safety needs and they understand that if retail sales go up there will be additional money available for that purpose and likewise that if sales fall short some of the promised improvements may be delayed," Rose wrote.

Yet Bruce pointed out the State Lawmakers set a clear example on this issue by asking voters to keep excess marijuana taxes collected after the passage of Amendment 64.

"You know, when the legislature agrees with me, that's news," Bruce said.

The TABOR Amendment contains a four-year deadline in which citizens can sue if they believe like Bruce does that the government is ignoring this constitutional requirement. The amendment also charges governments a 10 percent interest rate on money that wasn't refunded.

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