MANITOU SPRINGS – A pair of Manitou Springs residents is suing the City over its refusal to let them gather petitions in response to a tax incentive package given to the Cog Railway. City Council passed the ordinance June 26 which agreed to cap excise taxes at $500,000 a year for a period of 50 years.
Plaintiff John Shada explained that the speed of the Council’s decision, 15 days between the first reading and final adoption, prompted that petition drive. However, those efforts were stopped by the City Clerk who claimed that the agreement with the Broadmoor, which owns the Cog, was an administrative issue rather than a legislative one.
Thus, the ordinance is not subject to petition referendum in her view. Shada sees it differently.
“What we’re asking is for a judge to overrule the city clerk’s decision that were not allowed to have a referendum petition to put Ordinance 1318 up for a vote,” he said.
Shada served two terms on the City Council back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He explained that he and local writer Brenda Kay Gillen are suing because the decision impacts future generations by limiting the amount of tax revenue the city can collect.
“By us rebating this amount of money back, this means we’re going to have to raise taxes on other people to fill in the gaps.”
The Cog announced in March that it would not be opening for the 2018 season. Estimates to perform all the repairs have run as high as $100 million.
As part of the Ordinance, the Broadmoor agreed to pay the City $500,000 this year and another $500,000 in 2019 to make up for the lost revenue caused by the ongoing closure.
Still, Shada believes the public should get to weigh in on such a big decision.
“It was just our feeling that this is a decision that needs to go to the people.”
The lawsuit was filed on Monday. The City has not yet filed a response. News 5 reached out to Mayor Ken Jaray, but he was unable to provide a comment.