Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Roads tax "vote yes" effort draws thousands of dollars in support from contractors

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:12 PM

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All the usual suspects — road contractors, local developers and construction companies — have poured money into a political action committee formed to urge voters to approve the city's 2C road tax measure.

The tax, known on the ballot as 2C (an initiative the Indy has endorsed), proposes to extend by five years the city's tax for road improvements that was adopted by voters in 2015, but would lower the rate from .62 percent to .57 percent. The tax would raise more than $50 million a year.

Dubbed "Building COS," the committee has raised $135,090 and spent $90,815, most on radio ads and mailers.

The biggest donation came from Colorado Springs Forward, a business activist group that's donated to several campaigns supporting tax and fee increases in recent years.

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But given that it's unknown if the nonprofit even has an executive director — the most recent post on its Facebook page is dated over a year ago and its website is inaccessible — someone might wonder, Is this still a thing? Google shows it's shut down, or "permanently closed," as illustrated to the right.

But CSF apparently it is very much still a thing, because it ponied up $50,000 toward the road tax "vote yes" effort.

The "vote yes" committee has drawn many small donations, including $250 each from Mayor John Suthers, who proposed the measure, and his Chief of Staff Jeff Greene.

But the big money came from those involved in the construction industry, as follows:

  • $1,000: Trax Construction, Kathy Loo of High Valley Group, Ray Nunn of Nunn Construction, Developer Danny Mientka, and Vivid Engineering Group, all of Colorado Springs.
  • $2,000: Businessman Phil Lane and Nunn Construction, both of Colorado Springs.
  • $2,500: Jim and Laura Johnson (owners of GE Johnson) and Phil Long Dealerships, Inc., both of Colorado Springs.
  • $5,000: Gaylord Smith of AA Construction, GE Johnson Construction, Church Community Builder, Nor'wood Development Group, and the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, all of Colorado Springs; Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association, Centennial; Western Milling LLC, Grand Junction; A-1 Chipseal, Denver, and Even-Preisser, Inc., Monument.
  • $20,000: Work Zone Traffic Control, Inc., Pueblo.
Against the 2C measure is SpringsTaxpayers.com, which has announced it launched a radio ad this week.

Run by political operative Laura Carno, the organization is "committed to holding local government accountable," she says.

Says Carno in a news release:
We oppose the passage of 2C, the renewal of the pothole tax. Even outside of the annual income from the current pothole tax, and from the Stormwater Fee, the City of Colorado Springs has record revenue, and record spending. City government can prioritize roads, bridges, and public safety today. It doesn’t need to renew a sales tax to prioritize these important expenditures.
She also notes in the release that voters should keep in mind those projects on which the city spends money that might not be considered a high priority by voters, such as bike lanes, neighborhood traffic-calming projects, legal bills for a City Council member, and the $16 million subsidy for retailer Scheels.

SpringsTaxpayers.com has also published a report on how the original 2C money was spent, reporting that only 53% went to paving and potholes.

As for the other city measure on the ballot, 2B, a group called "Vote Yes for Parks" hasn't raised or spent any money. The measure asks voters to allow the city to keep $7 million in money in excess of limits imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and spend it on parks.

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