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Manitou Springs city leaders reject voter approved arts tax

Tax cannot be instituted without passing ordinance
Maintou Springs City Hall
Posted at 4:23 PM, Dec 17, 2019

MANITOU SPRINGS — A sales tax approved by voters in Manitou Springs is being held up by city leaders. The 0.3% sales tax increase passed by just five votes back in November and is designed to generate as much as $400,000 to bolster Manitou's arts and heritage infrastructure and programs. But the tax is on hold until a majority of city leaders pass an ordinance to move forward.

Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray says the MACH tax can only move forward with an approved ordinance.

"It will either be an ordinance consistent with what the voters voted on, or council could elect to do an ordinance consistent, but somewhat different than what the voters voted on," said Mayor Jaray.

Natalie Johnson is the executive director of the Manitou Art Center. She says once city leaders come around on an ordinance, the MACH tax can have a major impact.

"It's a 0.3% sales tax that would go toward projects like Hiawatha Gardens, the Manitou Springs Library, Miramont Castle, the Manitou Arts Center, the Manitou Springs Heritage Center and then projects and programs all throughout the community," said Johnson.

News5 reached out to city council members who rejected the arts and heritage tax. We're still waiting for an on the record response, but supporters of the tax say they're confident city leaders in 2020 will move forward.

"We also knew that we're going to get a new mayor and three new city council members. Everyone had campaigned in support of the MACH Project," said Johnson.

The hope is by the end of January, when new council members have been sworn in, the new ordinance will pass. Tax dollars would be collected in 2020 and those sales tax dollars would be paid out in 2021 to bolster the arts in Manitou Springs.

A work session is being planned for January 14th to allow city leaders to work with supporters of the tax to iron out an ordinance. Then on January 21st city leaders will have an opportunity to move forward with an ordinance and ultimately the tax.