City of Colorado Springs / Commissions & Committees / Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes: Wednesday, April 2, 2008
City Hall, Academy Room, 107 N Nevada Ave
Committee members in attendance: Ann Carlisle-Holcomb, Randy Case II, Welling Clark, Richard Hansen, Bernie Herpin, *Pat McElderry, *Frank O?Donnell, Winfield Pate, Joe Pelka, Marjorie Smith,
Committee members absent: Cynthia Halsey
Others present: Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, Penelope Culbreth-Graft, DPA - City Manager, Steve Cox/CSFD, Nina Rikoski/CSFD, Bob Lund/CSFD, Rod Walker/CSPD, Lili Tran/CSPD, Sam Azad/CSPD, Joe Curro/CSPD, Todd Dodge/Budget, Leslie Hickey/Budget, JoAnn Cox/Budget, Mary Jaurequi/Citizen, Ron Ruckdeschel/Citizen
Call to Order: Chair Richard Hansen called the meeting to order at 4:31 p.m. New staff members Todd Dodge and JoAnn Cox were introduced. Steve Cox, the newly named Interim Assistant City Manager, was welcomed.
Citizen Comment: There were two citizens in attendance and had no comments.
Approval of Minutes: The Chair asked for approval of the minutes from the January 9, 2008 meeting. The committee reviewed and accepted the minutes.
MOTION:      Bernie Herpin moved for the approval of the January 9, 2008 meeting minutes as published. Winfield Pate seconded. The motion to approve the minutes passed 6-0-2. Welling Clark and Ann Carlisle-Holcomb abstained.
*Pat McElderry and Frank O?Donnell arrive at 4:35pm.
New Business:
Future Public Safety Needs: Councilman Jerry Heimlicher explained what the Citizens for Effective Government (CEG) encompasses. This non-profit organization brings together 200-300 community leaders in the business world, education and both political parties ? Democrats and Republicans, to discuss major problems that affect our community. The committee meets weekly all year round and initially focused on traffic, congestion and transportation.
A community survey showed that transportation was the number one citizen concern. The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation put together leaders from the medical, educational, and the business world; from this effort the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) grew. The organization educated citizens? by attending Rotary Club meetings, meeting with individual homeowners, Homes Owners Associations and various other organizations to explain the PPRTA. The citizens passed the PPRTA one percent sales tax in November 2004. The $60-70M that this brings in annually helps Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and El Paso County provide capital improvements, maintenance and transit. This was the first successful effort of the CEG. A citizen oversight committee was created to ensure that the monies go toward the items required in the ballot initiative.
The second successful effort for the CEG was the explanation of Referendum C & D presented to the citizens two years ago. Referendum C passed. This was accomplished by educating the public on the specifics of Referendum C & D.
The third success story for the CEG was defeating 200 and 201, a proposal of an across the board 15% decrease. That would mean fewer police, fire and city employees. The educational process began again with the business community. It was defeated, but it cost between $300,000 and $400,000 to fight this harmful proposal. As a non-profit entity, the CEG must account for every penny it spends.
The Health Department then reached out to the CEG for help with education and funding for badly needed public services. Currently the Health Department should inspect restaurants two times per year; most restaurants are not even inspected once a year as there are not enough employees to inspect all the restaurants, nor are there enough to test swimming pools. If a Tuberculosis or West Nile emergency happens, the Health Department must drop everything they are working on to assist with these outbreaks. In addition, our jails are overcrowded and badly understaffed, as are the police, fire and coroners office.
With this information the CEG is beginning a public education campaign that will be on the voters? ballot in November 2008, asking for a one cent county-wide sales tax. This $60-$70M revenue will be divided between the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Health Department. It will have a 17 year life.
Currently 55 percent of the City?s revenue comes from the Sales Tax, which is a problem. If the economy declines and sales tax revenue decreases over a period of years, the City is unable to make up for it during better years due to the City?s TABOR cap. The City of Colorado Springs is the only city with its own TABOR law; plus it is bound by the State?s TABOR cap as well.
The second part of the CEG?s efforts will involve asking the public to eliminate the sales tax, replacing it with a property tax increase. This is expected some time in 2009 or 2010.
Councilman Heimlicher will bring a packet for distribution to the PSSTOC?s next monthly meeting that will outline where the funds under the current CEG proposal, are designated. Mike Kazmierski, the Chairman of CEG, will ask Council to support this proposal within the next month or two. In the long term, Councilman Heimlicher would like to see support to de-TABOR our City, but recognizes that the police, fire and other public safety organizations cannot wait much longer for relief.
Frank O?Donnell leaves at 5:15pm.
Special Guest: Penelope Culbreth-Graft, DPA - City Manager, began with the good news of the USOC staying in Colorado Springs. She then mentioned that Gregg Nyhoff, Assistant City Manager filed his resignation and Steve Cox with the Colorado Springs Fire Department had accepted the offer to be the Interim Assistant City Manager. There will be a two month transition time prior to Mr. Nyhoff?s departure.
Another important issue to be worked on quickly is the location of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). She is concerned about the City?s ability to deal with an emergency so this will be one of her top priorities. The new EOC will potentially house a new data center as well.
When asked about curbing growth, she indicated that Colorado Springs is a long way from reaching the levels of taxation in California, particularly in terms of property tax. When taxes are so low, cities often end up trying to bring in more economic development, which in turn means more people move here, and more services are required. It is really up to the citizens to determine how much growth will ultimately be acceptable.
Old Business
Police Update: Lili Tran presented the Police update. Carpet vendor finished installation tonight. Final walk-through is Friday, April 4, 2008. The budget only has about $110,000.00 for cruisers this year. That equals about 3 new cruisers versus 8-10 refurbished vehicles. They are checking with a dealer to possibly refurbish Crown Victoria?s at a third of the cost of a new cruiser. Since the vehicles run 24/7 it takes only 3 or 4 years to put on 100,000 miles. Another update will be provided in the future as this is a pilot program. The second DNA position is on board and the Crime lab position has been filled as well. Commander Walker on behalf of Chief Myers made a public comment on the accreditation process that the Police Department goes through every 4 years. It is a public information session on Monday, April 21, 2008, at the City Administration Building (CAB), Room 102, 30 S. Nevada Ave. It begins at 7:00 P.M. (Refer to hand-out in Official Record.) Contact Sgt. Mark Stevens, Accreditation Manager at 444-7844 for further information regarding the accreditation process.
Fire Update: Bob Lund presented the Fire update. Station 8 is complete. Everyone was invited to see the training area in the spring. Station 1 does have an architect on board to assist with the soil issues. It seems there is 15 feet of fill dirt which poses a building problem. Station 17 bids deadline is April 27th. More information in following months will be provided. A question was asked about the cost of Station 5?s new floor it cost $80,000 of which $5,000 was for the design. This was for an approximate size for a 15 x 50 sq ft area x 8 inches deep.
Budget Update: Leslie Hickey presented the Budget update. Leslie stated that this information is gathered from the City?s website, tax collection page. STET overall the combined sales and use tax collections for the month of February 2008 decreased 4.79% from February 2007. A question was asked regarding what is the forecast for the PSSTOC as compared to last year? It is down approximately $1M from the revised estimate. It is approximately $26M this year compared to $27M from last year. Another question was asked regarding the second page of the Budget Report as to what Dept #2152, Special Services referred to. It is related to crime lab expenses. Leslie explained that the negative amounts shown related to an accounting issue. It means certain expenditures were charged back to 2007 and this is how our Finance department has to account for it.
Reappointments: Welling Clark and Ann Carlisle-Holcomb terms end in May. Leslie states that it officially ends in the middle of the month.
MOTION:       Ann Carlisle-Holcomb moved to support the reappointment of Pat McElderry and Marjorie Smith to the Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee.  Bernie Herpin and Winfield Pate seconded the motion.  The motion passed on a vote of 9-0-0.
Dick Hansen requested a moving back to monthly meetings rather than waiting until July, especially since Councilman Heimlicher wants to attend in May to provide additional information on the CEG.
Meeting adjourned at 6:03 P.M.
Next Meeting: May 7th 4:30 ? 6:30 P.M., Academy Room, City Hall. Standard agenda with update on Leslie Hickey.
Notes: The minutes of this meeting were taken by JoAnn Cox. Any omissions or corrections should be brought to the Chairperson?s attention at the next PSSTOC meeting.