Manitou residents mixed on Cog deal’s tax incentives

Posted at 11:20 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 01:20:29-04

The Broadmoor and city of Manitou Springs reached a deal in June to complete $100 million in renovations on the Cog Railway, but now, some residents are exploring their options to challenge the deal.

Manitou Springs City Council passed an ordinance including the deal on June 26. In the deal, The Broadmoor pays for the $100 million project in exchange for tax relief from the city.

Wednesday night, some 200 citizens attended a meeting at the Briarhurst Manor to hear more about the negotiations. Afterward, a group of 30-40 people met to discuss petitioning to challenge the ordinance.

Mayor Ken Jaray offered some insight on the negotiations in Wednesday’s meeting. He said The Broadmoor came to Manitou Springs government back in March, realizing the repairs needed were much more extensive than previously thought.

Jaray said the resort is trying to complete the repairs, which will be from top to bottom on the railway, by 2020. It’s a robust timeline, but it would then reopen around the same time the new Pikes Peak Summit House is completed.

Residents against the deal were worried about transparency and the speed of the deal. Jaray said the pressure to complete the repairs by 2020, and start the work later this year, are why the ordinance was introduced and later passed within two weeks.

"And if they didn’t have our work done, they couldn’t do that. If they miss getting going in the fall, then they’re not really going to be able to get going in the winter. That’s tough," Jaray said.

But those in opposition fear the deal is far too one-sided toward The Broadmoor.

Per the contract, The Broadmoor will pay a cap of $500,000 in excise tax over the first 25 years of the deal. The cap increases to $750,000 for the final 25 years.

It does not account for inflation, which opponents like Tim Beeson fear will rob the city of crucial tax profits just years down the road.

"It doesn’t seem right that we would essentially set up an agreement where we would look pretty good over the first 10 years out. And from there on down, things start to slide very badly," Beeson said.

That’s why some 30-40 people stayed after the meeting to discuss challenges to the deal.

People leading the campaign believe they’ll need around 220 signatures over the next 30 days to officially petition the ordinance including the deal, but a city official at the meeting said it’s unclear whether that petition will even be considered as a legal challenge. He said it is his understanding that the city charter doesn’t allow petitions against an ordinance including financial language.

This is a developing story. News 5 will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.