Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Council says no to parks ballot issue

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 8:44 PM

click to enlarge City parks will not get a chance for added funding in the April election. - COLORADOSPRINGS.GOV
  • ColoradoSprings.gov
  • City parks will not get a chance for added funding in the April election.

Supporters of a proposed ballot question to provide $8 million a year for Colorado Springs parks suffered a bitter defeat Tuesday, as the City Council voted 6-3 against sending the issue to the city attorney to prepare wording for a ballot issue.

The vote effectively killed any chance of the parks question going to the voters in the April municipal election. The deadline for Council referring any measures to that ballot is not until Jan. 24, but barring a huge, unprecedented public reaction and Council change of heart, that cannot happen now.

A coalition of parks supporters, led by the Trust for Public Land and the Trails and Open Space Coalition, had commissioned a poll in December on alternatives for a parks-related ballot question. The concept of a 0.1 percent sales tax, providing $8 million a year for 10 years, was supported by a whopping 67 to 29 percent among poll respondents.

City parks don't have as much funding now as they did 10 years ago, mainly because the recession led to massive budget cuts. But the issue met a powerful opponent in Mayor John Suthers, who openly rejected the idea saying the city needed instead to continue focusing more on funding for infrastructure and stormwater.

Suthers' view obviously influenced Council, which gave the issue a brief glimmer of hope Monday by putting it on the Tuesday agenda, but then shot it down by the 6-3 margin. Supporters had asked only for Council to let the voters decide.

The three votes for moving the ballot issue forward came from Councilors Jill Gaebler, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.

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