Who says an off-year election is boring?
This fall, El Paso County voters will consider raising taxes in Colorado Springs and Fountain, while electing school board members in many districts.
They'll mark their ballots at their kitchen tables or parked in front of the TV, because voting will be entirely by mail. Ballots will go out Oct. 13, according to Liz Olson, El Paso County elections manager.
The marquee measures, both for Colorado Springs voters, are 2C (property tax hike), and 300 (Douglas Bruce's phase-out of enterprise payments to the city).
The city's proposal would nearly triple the property tax rate by 2014, and translate to roughly $23 million more next year. But the tax eventually would bring in much more, because the measure seeks permission to exempt the new revenue from constitution- and charter-imposed revenue limits.
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights restricts how much money government agencies can collect year-to-year based on growth and inflation, but the mill-rate increase would sidestep that requirement. In the words of City Clerk Kathryn Young, "It won't go against the city's TABOR cap."
Measure 300, similar to what Bruce put on the ballot in 2008, would phase out payments to city enterprises. Aimed largely at Stormwater Enterprise fees, which bring in about $15 million annually, the proposal also would eliminate Colorado Springs Utilities' payment in lieu of taxes to the city's general fund, roughly $26 million a year.
In Fountain, voters will consider 2A, an increase in city sales tax from 3 percent to 3.75 percent, which would raise about $1.35 million in the first year and continue 10 years before scaling back. Mayor Jeri Howells, unopposed for another term, says the idea is to fund construction projects specifically listed on the ballot and then to reduce the tax, which still would pay for ongoing maintenance and transit service.
"We're calling it a mini version of the RTA," she says, referring to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, which doesn't include Fountain.
Voter registration closes Oct. 5. For information, go to car.elpasoco.com/election/voter_registration.htm.
Now, as for what's on the ballot, including contested races:
• Colorado Springs:
2C: Property tax increase to fund general city services.
300: Phase-out of enterprise payments to the city.
2A: Sales tax increase to fund transportation.
2B: Lengthening the mayor's term to four years from two years.
Council at-large: Ratu Solanki, Robert Plyley, Sam Heckman.
• Manitou Springs:
2D: To change how capital improvements are handled.
Mayor: Nancy Sage Barnes, Marc Snyder, Rick Barry.
Council Ward 3: Karen Cullen, Matt Carpenter.
• School districts
Colorado Springs 11 (three seats): Albert Loma, Chyrese Exline, Delia Armstrong-Busby, LuAnn Long, Sandra Mann.
Academy 20 (three seats): Doug Lundberg, Tracey Johnson, Terry Kunkel, Catherine Bullock, Linda Van Matre, Fran Reichert, Mark Smith, Dan Reifschneider, James Jenista.
Harrison 2 (three seats): Richard Price, Deborah Hendrix, Linda Pugh, Steve Hester, Ed Ralston.
Lewis-Palmer 38 (District 3 seat): David Cloud, Gail Wilson.
Falcon 49 (three seats): Donahue Quashie, Tammy Harold, John Koster, Christopher Wright, Jackie Vialpando, Danielle Lindorf, Jon Rowley.
Fountain-Fort Carson 8 (two seats): Dawn Bentley, Suzanne Clark Foster, Dale Rough III.
Manitou Springs 14 (two seats): Marsha Ann Weimer, Molly Stevens, Clemente "Gino" Mendoza.