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Should Pueblo West become a city? Potential study to look at impacts

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PUEBLO WEST -

There's a population explosion in Pueblo West, so much that some say the area should become its own city. 

The Pueblo West Metropolitan District says it's possible that this could happen, but before anything goes on the ballot it will have to take the first step: conduct a study to look at how incorporation could affect the people who live and work in Pueblo West. 

Resident Strider Swope said, "We've reached a point where we have to start looking at ourselves not as a rural community because we are no longer a rural community."

If anyone knows Pueblo West it's Strider Swope. 

"I've lived in Pueblo West since 1986 when I was about six years old...when I first moved out to Pueblo West the nearest house was probably a quarter of a mile to a mile away and very private."

Back then, there were only about 3,000-4,000 residents. As of 2018, Pueblo is home to about 30,000 people. Jay-Michael Baker of the Pueblo West Metropolitan District calls this kind of growth in southern Colorado unprecedented. 

Baker said, "We're a very large community and with a larger population there's a lot of...infrastructure and services that require resources."

Currently, Pueblo West collects zero sales tax. 

"Yet we provide...maintenance for 405 miles of roads. We provide parks and recreation departments with numerous programs of sports and other maintenance of parks and trails. We have about 4,500 acres of trails and easement we maintain," said Baker. 

When it comes to roads in Pueblo West, Swope says the area is "infamous for its bad roads...I don't fault the metro district per se because they work with what little resources they have. It's just we need more."

But should Pueblo West become an incorporated city? Baker says, first, they need more information. 

"It's really looking proactively, holistically at the rate of growth that we have, how we are able to or not able to provide services at the level the community demands."

The previous board serving the metro district was considering a study to look at the impacts of incorporation. However, a new board is taking over. If it decides to move forward on the study a financial firm would take the lead. 

Baker said, "It's going to look at the impact of...what new costs would be incurred upon the taxpayer or would there have to be increase in taxes? Would there be things that could be contracted for, different services...the purpose of exploring incorporation through a study is to really just be proactive and understand the issue in case we face it."

Still, it's a change that not everyone in Pueblo West wants to see. 

One person wrote on Facebook: "It's country living out here. No street lights. It's good the way it is. Why on earth would you want it to be like city living?"

Other posts suggest that becoming a city doesn't make sense: "This area is not financially prosperous to make a municipality without a huge tax increase."

Another person wrote: "Pueblo West economy is not strong enough. People drive to town to eat, shop...the taxes that are spent there are in no way enough to sustain everything involved...it's a bad move, no one thinks of the costs associated with that move. How they gonna pay fireman, police, and everything else."

The Pueblo West Metro District wants to take all opinions into account.

Baker said, "I would just encourage residents to...come out and be involved in meetings." 

If a study does happen it would be paid for by grant funding and the board's general fund. News 5 will keep you updated.
 

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