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Voters reject TOPS tax in Colorado Springs

Stratton Open Space
Posted at 10:56 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 07:38:36-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — On Tuesday, issue 2C asked voters to extend Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax for 20 years.

With 90 percent of the votes in, it looks like that it will no longer happen.

Unofficial results as of 11:48 p.m. with over 90% of precincts reporting

Colorado Springs 2C TOPSVotesPercentage

The ballot measure would have increased the tax from one cent for every $10 spent to two cents for every $10. The increase was intended to help with the city’s $270 million dollar backlog of projects and maintenance.

Colorado Springs City Councilman Richard Skorman walks every day in Stratton Open Space, the first property TOPS dollars helped purchase. He was a major advocate for the original TOPS tax and is behind the new initiative.

"We have so many parks in disrepair we have so many trails that lead to nowhere and we have other really valuable open space to buy and its now very expensive," he said, "It's the smallest tax of its kind of any city in the state."

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and all other members of City Council also supported 2C.

There was some vocal opposition from another group of park supporters who do not like changes from the original TOPS tax.

“The intent was to create a separate and protected tax dollar fund,” said Donna Strom.

She believes the 2C initiative creates the potential for TOPS dollars to be diverted from purchasing and preserving open space in favor of parks maintenance projects in the city.

The concerns were shared by Colorado Springs resident Bruce Hamilton.
"I love parks and I love open space, but I cannot support this ballot issue that will potentially harm the ability to acquire more open space," said Hamilton.

“This proposal still allows for that same amount of acquisition,” said

However, Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director, Karen Palus, said that the initiative designates what percentage of money goes to buying open space, reducing the backlog of neighborhood parks not yet built and maintenance.

Other areas in Colorado have passed similar measures. In Boulder a similar tax is .62%; Jefferson County .5%; Fort Collins .25%.

Supporters say that there was talk of asking for a higher amount, but this amount was decided on as something voters would support.