COLORADO SPRINGS – The push to finish the Powers Boulevard extension in northern Colorado Springs continues.
Mayor John Suthers and developer Polaris Pointe are asking the city to provide more funding to get it done faster.
This would not be a tax increase. The city is already collecting a one percent sales tax that goes to the general fund and another one percent that goes in to an Urban Renewal Account. The proposal is to shift more of that two percent total into the URA.
Economic Development Officer Bob Cope said what will happen in the future if this is approved is that 1.75 percent of the two percent will go to the URA and only .25 percent will go to the city.
Cope said, “If we don’t approve this we’ll continue to collect the one percent. It will sit in the account. We’ll lose billions of dollars in economic growth…we need to provide enough funding to actually get it done because right now the money’s being collected and there’s not enough revenue there to do anything.”
Currently, Powers Boulevard extends from south of Colorado Springs to Highway 83, but then it dead ends.
Cope said the 100 acres north of that is developing because it has access to North Gate Boulevard.
However, the other portion has no access or visibility right now, keeping retailers away.
Cope said, “It’s a very significant interchange that has to be built at I-25 and that’s the major portion of the project.”
The funding for that won’t happen without amending how sales tax revenue is shared, a resolution that still needs to be approved by city council members.
President Richard Skorman said, “I probably will support it. I think it’s a good proposal.”
While Skorman is all for it some members still have questions.
At last week’s city council meeting President Pro-tem Jill Gaebler said she wanted to know if El Paso County is going to chip in.
Gaebler said, “I guess I’d really like to know the outcome of that before we vote on this…they have absolutely no skin in the game right now.”
Cope said Polaris Pointe plans to ask the county to share point .5 percent of the sales tax revenue it collects from the Powers project.
This sales tax shift would be in place for 25 years and if all goes according to plan the Powers extension and a full retail center could all be complete by 2023.
The city council will vote on this resolution at its regular meeting next week on March 12th.