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Council opens Cog Railway discussion to the public

Posted at 2:22 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 16:43:46-04

MANITOU SPRINGS – The community of Manitou Springs is getting another opportunity to weigh in on details of the highly controversial Cog Railway deal that is now up for reconsideration by the City.

A public meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2nd at Manitou City Hall. The focus of this meeting is to address specific long-term impacts if a deal is reached and the Cog resumes operations in the future.

Cog Wheel Depot
The Broadmoor Cog railway remains closed for repairs.

“There are so many Manitou Springs projects currently in play that all are connected and directly related to the Cog agreement that the public still has opportunities to weigh in on,” said Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray. “During the October 2 forum we will discuss those, including the Incline, citizen input from the recent Hiawatha Gardens public meeting, and the Mobility Study,” said Jaray.

“We negotiated as part of the current Cog agreement a collaborative Mobility Study in which the Cog, the City of Colorado Springs and the City of Manitou Springs each funded up to $50,000 for the study designed to enhance the lives of Manitou residents, business and property owners,” said Jaray.

Public Meetings:

October 2– 5:30-6:45 p.m. Manitou City Hall (Public Discussion Only)

October 9– 6:00 p.m. Manitou City Hall (Special City Council Meeting)

October 23– 6:00 p.m. Manitou City Hall (City Council Voting)

This renewed effort to have more open discussions came after community backlash on the original deal that City Council passed in June.

That deal included tax breaks for the Broadmoor, whose parent company owns the Cog Railway, while extensive repairs are made to the existing track and train cars. Included in the original agreement, a cap on the excise taxes the Cog would pay the city. It will be capped at $500,000 per year starting in 2020 and is raised in increments through 2070.

It also waived a 3.8 percent use tax on capital assets purchased by the Cog while it makes repairs. The railway would have paid the city $500,00 this year and next year in order to offset the loss of sales and excise tax revenues while it is shut down.

Cog Railway
A traveller takes a photograph of the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Cog Railway train at the summit of Pike’s Peak on Thursday, May 25, 2006, near Manitou Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A group of community members started a petition over the summer asking the city to put it to a public vote, citing loss of revenue in the deal and raising questions about the long-term effect to the community as the Cog is revitalized.

The petition was thrown out by the city under the grounds that the decisions are administrative and not legislative, therefore not open to a ballot initiative. A lawsuit was filed in August challenging that decision.

“The extensive public input we received on the first draft of the agreement resulted in improvements that will benefit the City of Manitou Springs,” said Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray. “We are very thankful for the citizens who came forward and voiced their concerns and helped shape what we believe is now an even better agreement that is currently being reviewed by the Cog owners. During the October 2 forum, while we are awaiting feedback from the Cog, we will present thorough information about the process thus far leading to the improved new agreement,” said Jaray.

The negotiation process is now back underway.

Manitou Springs City Council expects to have their first reading of a revised draft agreement during a special council meeting in October.

That will be during a special council meeting at 6:00 p.m. at Manitou City Hall. Public comment will be taken. After that a second review hearing is expected to take place on October 23. During that meeting council is expected to vote on the deal.

“An agreement with the Cog needs to move forward to avoid the risk of losing or delaying the Cog’s reopening.,” said Jaray. “The Cog is a huge contributor our local economy. Every day it sits not open for business is a loss to City tax revenue, a loss to our businesses who rely on the tourism it attracts, and is a loss to our citizens, not to mention the economic loss to the Pikes Peak region as a whole,” he said. “The revised draft agreement is based on extensive public feedback we have received since the first agreement was drafted. We believe it’s been improved in a way that fairly serves the interests of all involved.”

Schedule of public meetings:

  • Oct. 2nd– 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Manitou City Hall 606 Manitou Avenue
  • Oct. 9th– 6:00 p.m. Manitou City Hall 606 Manitou Avenue
  • Oct. 23rd– 6:00 p.m. Manitou City Hall 606 Manitou Avenue (vote expected following public comment)
  • For anyone who needs special assistance to attend the meeting call 719-685-2554 or email the city clerk at: cityclerk@comsgov.com