Tuesday, July 23, 2019

SpringsTaxpayers offers watchdog help to taxpayers nationwide

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Carno helps launch watchdog group nationwide. - COURTESY LAURA CARNO
  • Courtesy Laura Carno
  • Carno helps launch watchdog group nationwide.
Why did the city of Colorado Springs sell a $570,000 piece of property to a nonprofit for $1?

How come a Rockrimmon neighborhood just got newly paved streets to serve only 44 homes when that money could have filled 24,614 potholes instead?

Why is City Councilor Andy Pico the only one asking questions about how closing the downtown Drake Power Plant will impact customer rates?

What has the city done or not done to ease the traffic burden in the Cragmoor neighborhood since approving a big apartment complex there in 2015?

Find answers to these and other questions at SpringsTaxpayers.com, which announced on July 23 it's branching out to help other communities across the country find answers to local government questions.

SpringsTaxpayers is run by Laura Carno, a political consultant who co-founded the 50l(C)4 organization (and handled Steve Bach's campaign for Springs mayor in 2011), and Rebecca Marshall, a neighborhood activist who opposed bike lanes after they were installed along Research Parkway (and later removed).

Now, the two have launched YourTownTaxpayers, which enables taxpayers from anywhere to learn how to hold their local elected officials accountable.

From a news release:

Over the past two years, SpringsTaxpayers.com has been educating the citizens of the Pikes Peak region about local issues that affect their finances. These issues include spending prioritization, TABOR refunds, burdensome regulations, and government overreach.

“Since the inception of SpringsTaxpayers.com, we have been contacted by citizens from other cities —both in Colorado and across the country— who want to do something similar in their area,” said Laura Carno, co-founder of SpringsTaxpayers.com and Your Town Taxpayers. “Local government is the easiest government to hold accountable, and we look forward to sharing our process templates and issues research with other interested citizen groups across the country.”

SpringsTaxpayers.com educates citizens through robust social media activity, a weekly newsletter, and original blogs. It also takes tips from members of the public, which is the source of some of its original blogs.

Carno and Marshall also will instruct taxpayers on how to use the Colorado Open Records Act "to uncover otherwise hidden facts, and discussions that go on with area public servants."

"A lot of people don't know they can do open records requests in their area," she tells the Independent. "You're the public. The government works for you. We can direct them to resources in their area."

Carno says SpringsTaxpayers.com qualifies as a "media-esque" type site, because it covers issues not being covered by other media — and it responds to reader tips.

"We still look at ourselves as educating taxpayers and local citizenry," she says. "We came out against a couple ballot measures in the past. We haven't endorsed candidates, but we've done commission and council surveys and just posted them (online)."

YourTownTaxpayers enables Carno and Marshall to share their expertise in being a watchdog of local government, she says.

The SpringsTaxpayers website gets about 1,000 visits a week, Carno says, while its Facebook page has about 700 followers.

For more information about Your Town Taxpayers, YourTownTaxpayers@gmail.com or 719-492-0211.

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