Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Calhan dropped from PPRTA; Bruce protests ballot language

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Douglas Bruce
  • Douglas Bruce

So far, no one wants to say why it happened, but one thing is for sure: The town of Calhan will not be a part of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority II agreement or ballot issue.

PPRTA II will provide millions for transportation improvements if passed by voters in November. The sales tax-based funding would continue for 10 years, and is considered a second phase of the original 10-year PPRTA that voters passed previously in 2004, which is generally viewed positively.

Originally, the PPRTA included four governments: El Paso County, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Green Mountain Falls. The town of Ramah has since joined. Calhan, a rural town, was also expected to be a part of the ballot issue but was unexpectedly deleted from the language at today's PPRTA meeting.

Calhan officials who attended the meeting deferred all questions to their mayor, who could not immediately be reached. Colorado Springs City Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, who serves on the PPRTA board, was among the board members who expressed regret that Calhan would not be a part of the RTA. She said she didn't feel comfortable explaining why Calhan exited, but confirmed that the change was unexpected, and due to an "administrative issue."

Board members did manage to approve the language of the intergovernmental agreement and ballot issue. But even that came with a little drama. Famed anti-tax advocate (and convicted felon) Douglas Bruce showed up to the PPRTA meeting, and several people at the meeting say Bruce threatened to sue to change the ballot language of the PPRTA II question. Bruce apparently left, however, when informed that he would have to wait until after a closed executive session to make comments.

Reached by phone, Bruce said this evening that he isn't planning any actions at this time, though he has several issues with the PPRTA II question. They range from language in the ballot title he feels is deceptive, and even illegal, to the merit of the PPRTA in general given its past performance. Bruce notes that the city is in violation of its original PPRTA IGA, because it's allowed its funding for buses to drop. What's more, Bruce notes, eight years into the 10-year tax, PPRTA is still trying to finish its "A-list" projects, and hasn't touched its "B" or "C" list. (Many blame the slow progress on the recession.)

Still, Bruce says, "I have no plans to do anything, in the first place I haven’t seen [the newly approved ballot language].”

Bruce has five days to contest the language in the ballot issue.

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