Sheriff Bill Elder was the only one to file a statement in support of extending for eight years the sheriff's sales tax, ballot measure 1A on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Nov. 6 election is less than six weeks away and it appears no committee has been formed to campaign for El Paso County's 1A, a continuation of the .0023 percent sheriff's sales tax.
Moreover, only one "pro" statement has been filed with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights Notice, and it was filed by Sheriff Bill Elder, although his name initially was withheld from the public. More on that later.
The measure would extend the eight-year sales tax first approved by voters in 2012 for a second eight years, or through 2028. County officials estimated the tax would raise $17 million the first year, but receipts exceeded that, resulting in a lawsuit
. An appeal of a judgment in favor of the county was filed in March with the Colorado Court of Appeals.
A search of active committees for campaigns in El Paso County filed with the Secretary of State showed no committee formed to support 1A. Advocates who spend $200 or more on campaigning for an issue must file reports. (A committee formed to support the measure in 2012, when then-Sheriff Terry Maketa was riding a wave of support, spent only about $7,000.)
The deadline to file TABOR "pro" and "con" statements, summaries of which will be mailed soon to all voters, was Sept. 21. Three people filed "con" statements but only Elder filed a "pro" statement.
In it, Elder argues, "This proposal creates no new or increased taxes while assuring the continuation of dedicated and restricted funding solely to support public safety needs throughout El Paso County. These include crime prevention, criminal investigation and the mandated detention operation in the jail."
He also notes that calls for service have gone up by 57 percent since 2012, while the daily average inmate population has increased by 24 percent. Elder also says the tax:
...currently pays for more than 190 Sheriff's Office employees working in all bureau. It provides resources needed for increased illegal marijuana enforcement and multi-jurisdictional task forces targeting organized violent criminal activity that includes manufacturing and distribution of various types of dangerous drugs, motor vehicle and vehicle parts theft operations and human trafficking. It also provides resources for a Jail Veterans Ward addressing specific needs of veterans, a Rural Enforcement Unit and additional patrol deputies in the rapidly growing Falcon area.
But the Clerk and Recorder's Office initially released the statement with no name, signature or address. (The other filings contained names and addresses. State law stipulates that pro-con statements must be filed by registered voters and bear their names and addresses.)
Asked about that, county director of elections Angie Leath explained that Elder is a "confidential voter," so, therefore, his name and address were removed from the TABOR "pro" statement. A confidential voter is one who signs an affirmation to have their voter registration information kept secret. That information includes their address, among other data points.
After we asked about Elder's name and address being withheld, we were sent a new Elder statement bearing his name.
Leath says confidential voting status is granted to law enforcement officers, judges, elected officials and others who believe they might be in danger if someone could their address, including stalking victims.
"We have a lot of law enforcement who sign up as a confidential voter," she says.
There are more than 800 confidential voters in El Paso County, according to County Attorney Amy Folsom.
As for the three statements urging a "no" vote on 1A, portions of those submissions follow, and all four statements in full are posted below.
Douglas Bruce, author of TABOR, former county commissioner and state legislator who was convicted of tax evasion:
This is not about backing cops; it's about overpaying incompetent commissioners who can't balance a budget the way your family must. Read their vague "to do" list; the money is for general overhead.... Our combined sales tax rate is 8.25%. Higher than Denver! THE HIGHEST BIG CITY SALES TAX RATE IN COLORADO. This "temporary" tax is not needed. Your "NO" vote will force it down to 8.02% in 2021 — a step in the right direction.
Unsuccessful primary candidate for sheriff Mike Angley wrote comments opposing the sheriff's tax extension.
Mike Angley, Republican candidate for sheriff in the June primary who lost to Elder:
The County has had six years to find a permanent solution to the temporary Public Safety Tax but has failed to do so. Poor management should not become a burden on the taxpayer today. County Question I A merely ducks responsibility.... The main purpose of the original Public Safety Tax was to provide for more manpower in both patrol and detention at the Sheriffs Office. For the last four years, the Sheriff's Office has seen double-digit attrition losses to the point that patrol and jail manning are now at dangerously low levels. If the County has failed to accomplish what the original tax was approved for why should residents trust the County to get it right with a second chance?
Roger Bishop Jr.:
The Sheriffs Department commissioned two reports on how to improve the Department they will not release to you, the taxpayer who paid over $70,000... Halfway through the current term the leadership commissioned a 2nd report at a cost of $14,900 that had 52 new recommendations — but the Sheriffs Department leadership never had the firm finish the report! Why did we waste money on reports?... The Sheriffs Department spent more on frivolous reports than on a deputy's salary. Wouldn't you want to implement some of the recommendations made in a report you paid for? If the Sheriffs Department wants additional money, why not be transparent in how the money is currently being spent?
Here are all four statements submitted to the county for the TABOR notice.
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