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Sheriff tax rakes it in, Philipps to ship out, more 

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More money from tax

The newest tax in El Paso County is off to a strong start, raising about 5 percent more than predicted.

In 2013, the .23-of-a-cent sales tax to fund sheriff's operations raised $17,872,487, county records show. The ballot measure estimated the annual take at $17 million.

The measure, proposed by Sheriff Terry Maketa, was approved by voters in November 2012 with the endorsement of several county commissioners. Maketa argued it was needed to fund the addition of more than 100 positions, make repairs at the jail, and acquire warehouse space for emergency services operations.

The measure contained a provision that allows the county to keep as much money as the tax raises, rather than for revenue to be capped under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. The tax sunsets in 2020.

The county's 1 percent sales tax raised more money in 2013 than in 2012, records show, rising to $78.4 million from about $74.9 million. — Pam Zubeck

NYT hires Philipps

Saying it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up, Gazette reporter Dave Philipps has accepted a national reporting job with The New York Times, where he'll cover military and veterans affairs.

Philipps won the Pulitzer Prize in April for national reporting with his series of stories "Other Than Honorable," about the military's ouster of soldiers for infractions that stemmed from their combat service, leaving them without medical benefits.

A Springs native, Philipps, 36, covered outdoor stories and other assignments for the daily from 2003 to 2011. In 2010, he was a Pulitzer finalist for a series about soldiers who returned from war and committed murders. He later wrote a book about it.

He left the Gazette in 2011 for a University of Colorado-Boulder fellowship in environmental issues and returned to the paper in October 2012.

Philipps, who is married to an attorney and has two children, will start at the Times in New York City on Aug. 11.

"I know this sounds sappy," he says, "but I'm really sad to leave my hometown and the Gazette." — PZ

Rayburn omits disclaimer

Both Republican candidates for the Fifth Congressional District, have used military images without a disclaimer that such images don't imply endorsement by the Defense Department or its divisions, but only one is in violation of DoD policy.

Challenger Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force major general, used images of himself in uniform and a flight suit in a television ad. His campaign manager, Susan Cunniff, says the ads are being changed to include the disclaimer. His website always had the disclaimer, she notes. "We realize it was an oversight, and we're working on correcting it," she says.

She adds that Congressman Doug Lamborn is using images of himself at Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy in campaign materials without a disclaimer. However, the rule doesn't apply to people who have never been in the military.

El Paso County Democratic Party executive Christy Le Lait was surprised to see Rayburn violate the Pentagon rule, as he's run for Congress twice before. "So why the blatant disregard now?" she asks. — Pam Zubeck

Springs: Yay, business

Colorado Springs is the No. 1 friendliest city in the nation for small business owners, according to a new survey from thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The survey interviewed 12,632 business owners in 82 cities, asking opinion-based questions like, "In general, how would you rate your state's support of small business owners?" And, "Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?" It then rated cities on more than a dozen metrics.

Colorado Springs consistently scored high on everything from the ease of complying with regulations to the rate of taxes to the ease of hiring and starting a business. It earned an A+ overall and a No. 1 rating, compared to Fort Collins' No. 24 and Denver's No. 28.

According to survey results, Colorado Springs is the top locale in the country for "friendly" licensing rules and regulations. The Springs' small business owners were also the third-happiest in the country with their tax burden.

Male business owners were more optimistic about the local economy than female owners. — J. Adrian Stanley

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