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City of Colorado Springs / City Council / News

Ballot Measures Outcome

In yesterday’s combined Formal and Informal meetings, City Council voted to send two measures— Parks, Trail and Open Space (TOPS) and Council Compensation—to the ballots.

Three other measures, Utilities Governance, Colorado Springs Utilities Contract Authority and Elected City Attorney, were postponed indefinitely.

Measures going to the ballots in April:

TOPS:
A resolution to modify the use of the current 0.01 percent (once tenth of a cent) city sales/use tax for trails, open space and parks (TOPS) for the purpose of providing flexible funding within the 20 percent portion of revenue allocated for parks to be used, retroactive from Jan. 1, 2013, to acquire, construct and maintain new park areas and to maintain /renovate all parks.       

Background:
In 1997, voters passed a measure for a .01% sales/use tax for improving/maintaining open space and trails and constructing parks.In 2003, voters passed a measure extending the TOPS Program until 2025. And, in 2010, voters passed a two-year provision that increased the maintenance from 6 percent to 15 percent.

City budget constraints and water, employment and materials costs indicate that the current level of Parks maintenance is unsustainable at current funding levels. In addition, current funding for park maintenance (2010 measure passed by voters) decreased on Jan. 1 from 15 percent to its original 6 percent of the TOPS revenue.

Financial Implications:
The decrease from 15-6 percent will result in an annual net decrease in available funding of $558,000. If voters pass the measure to allow the 20 percent portion, revenue will provide up to $1,128,000 in available park maintenance funding. No tax increase.

Board/Commission Recommendation:
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, along with TOPS Working Committee and the Parks Solution Team recommended that a maintenance of effort (MOE) clause be added to ensure that the net increase in available funding for maintenance is not simply offset by a decrease in the City’s General Fund support.

On Jan. 10, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board reaffirmed their support for a non-legally binding MOE and recommended that Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services receive a minimum of 6 percent of the annual General Fund revenues.

Outcome:
Measure, without MOE clause, passes 7-2 with Council members Williams and Martin opposed.

 

Council Compensation:
An ordinance to amend the City Charter to increase Council’s annual compensation, beginning in April 2015, from $6,250 to $48,000 and make Council eligible for employee benefits. The proposal increases compensation to 40 percent of the mayor's compensation.

Background:
Staff surveyed council compensation in several communities. All communities surveyed had council compensation at amounts higher than the City of Colorado Springs. View the survey.

Financial Implications:
In 2015, City Council’s combined annual salary will increase from $56,250 to $301,930 (pro-rated). Benefit costs are estimated at 30 percent of salary or an additional cost of $84,738. The total cost is estimated at $386,668. The costs are to be split equally between the City and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). Currently, the city recaptures 50 percent of council compensation through a cost allocation program with CSU.

Stakeholder Process:
The ballot item was proposed by a group of citizens from the Colorado Springs Independent, Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, Colorado Springs Young Professionals, Chamber Rising Professionals and Citizens Project.

Outcome:
Measure passes on a 5-4 vote with Council members Herpin, Bennett, Dougan and Leigh opposed.