Joel C. Miller 
Member since Feb 26, 2015

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Posted by Joel C. Miller on 09/26/2018 at 3:06 AM

Re: “El Paso County Sheriff's tax referred to November ballot

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS WANT VOTERS TO SAY YES TO HIGHER TAXES BUT REFUSE TO SAY NO TO TAXPAYER HANDOUTS FOR DEVELOPERS.

County Commissioners are asking for this tax increase because they claim the Countys general fund has inadequate revenue to pay for public safety. It is a tax increase because, even though the ballot language misleadingly will state, without raising taxes, an affirmative vote will give you higher taxes because without the vote, County sales taxes would revert to the lower pre-2012 rate.

The lack of dollars Commissioners unanimously bemoan, is despite increasing tax revenues and a voter-approved PERMANENT tax increase of $14 million per year. In 2016, capitalizing on the ire of citizens stuck in I-25 gridlock, the Commission asked voters to forego $14 million per year in TABOR refundsFOREVERby promising that the first years windfall would help fund the gap on I-25. As it turns out, County taxpayers were not given all the information. Commissioners were well aware that a TOLL LANE would likely be installed using those dollars yet failed to mention that fact to voters in their zeal for passing the higher tax. The TOLL LANE begins construction this fall. By the way, after the first year, Commissioners are allowed to allocate that $14 million-per-year-forever tax increase any way they see fit, including increased public safety funding. According to one Commissioner, the first round of budget talks for next year had much of the $14 million increase being allocated to give county workers raises without any increase in funding for public safety or county roads.

In light of the stated shortfall in County money to pay for a critical government role like public safety, and the Commission's insistence that they must ask taxpayers to forego more of their paychecks to meet the shortfall, NOT ONE COMMISSIONER, will answer the question about whether theyll vote no on a plan to take money collected as County sales and property taxes and divert that money from where it would normally go (the general fund that pays for public safety) to pay for Norwood Development Group plans in Southwest Downtown through the Urban Renewal Authority. Yes, according to City plans, county taxpayer money would be used to subsidize a private development in Southwest Downtown to the tune of over $40 million and pay for public improvements for which any developer in any other area would have to pay for themselves. NOT ONE COMMISSIONER committed to voting no on this corporate welfare and yet will continue to have taxpayers forego $14 million per year in a forever- tax-increase with no specific parameters for where the money must go. Now they seek ANOTHER $22 million tax increase per year for 8 more years with the extension of the Public Safety Tax. Less than one year after asking for the Public Safety Tax increase the first time in 2012 and gaining voter approval, the Commission also signed a letter to State Officials committing over $42 million in money collected as County sales tax then to be similarly diverted from the Countys general fund to pay for a City for Champions Stadium. It is unclear how much the County will commit for the latest round of plans on the stadium and its infrastructure as all those figures are being withheld from the public.

As a recap, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners has agreed to ask all citizens to commit to parting with more from their wallets on this tax increase extension, but NOT ONE COMMISSIONER will state theyll oppose giving away tax money they claim they dont have enough of to Norwood Development Group plans and for a Downtown C4C stadium and its infrastructure.

Darryl Glenn (DarrylGlenn@elpasoco.com),

Longinos Gonzalez
(LonginosGonzalezJr@elpasoco.com)

Mark Waller (MarkWaller@ElPasoCo.com)

Peggy Littleton (peggylittleton@elpasoco.com)

Stan Vanderwerf (stanvanderwerf@elpasoco.com)

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 09/12/2018 at 2:19 PM

Re: “UPDATE: El Paso County commissioners eye sheriff's tax extension

I testified at todays commission meeting and asked commissioners to share their plans on whether theyll support over $40 million collected as County sales and property taxes bypassing the general fund that could fund public safety to be used to pay for development in Southwest Downtown. A previous commission also committed $42 million in county sales tax collections for a downtown stadium and its infrastructure and the new stadium plan will likely be asking for a similar commitment.

I just asked that the Commission to, BEFORE they tell voters theyve got no money in the general fund for public safety and ask for potentially hundreds of millions in extended tax increases, that they state their intentions with regard to the two developments mentioned above which will seek county tax money that would otherwise be going to that same general fund.

Commissioner Waller, in a tirade, made clear his intention to support the beautification of Vermijo and other developer-backed public assistance in SW downtown. So yes...for at least one Commissioner: were so broke we dont have enough to fund the Sheriffs department and consequently need to extend the tax increase, but...that general fund (or money that would have gone there) certainly ought to pay for helping out the areas largest developer.

Couldnt help mentioning that higher ups for the primary developer in SW downtown had made significant campaign donations to 4 of the 5 Commissioners.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 08/28/2018 at 12:20 PM

Re: “UPDATE: El Paso County commissioners eye sheriff's tax extension

It is corrupt to agree to a closed executive session when it's not authorized by law. Even if your attorney says it's ok. At some point, you've got to read the law yourself, as an elected official. For our County Commissioners: here is what Colorado Law says about when a closed-to-the-public executive session meeting can take place (note: discussing how to politically maneuver a permanent tax increase as Republicans in a predominantly Republican county is not listed):

(I) The purchase of property for public purposes, or the sale of property at competitive bidding, if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest. No member of the state public body shall use this paragraph (a) as a subterfuge for providing covert information to prospective buyers or sellers. Governing boards of state institutions of higher education including the regents of the university of Colorado may also consider the acquisition of property as a gift in an executive session, only if such executive session is requested by the donor.

(II) Conferences with an attorney representing the state public body concerning disputes involving the public body that are the subject of pending or imminent court action, concerning specific claims or grievances, or for purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions. Mere presence or participation of an attorney at an executive session of a state public body is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this subsection (3).

(III) Matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or rules, state statutes, or in accordance with the requirements of any joint rule of the senate and the house of representatives pertaining to lobbying practices;

(IV) Specialized details of security arrangements or investigations, including defenses against terrorism, both domestic and foreign, and including where disclosure of the matters discussed might reveal information that could be used for the purpose of committing, or avoiding prosecution for, a violation of the law;

(V) Determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations with employees or employee organizations; developing strategy for and receiving reports on the progress of such negotiations; and instructing negotiators;

(VI) With respect to the board of regents of the university of Colorado and the board of directors of the university of Colorado hospital authority created pursuant to article 21 of title 23, C.R.S., matters concerning the modification, initiation, or cessation of patient care programs at the university hospital operated by the university of Colorado hospital authority pursuant to part 5 of article 21 of title 23, C.R.S., (including the university of Colorado psychiatric hospital), and receiving reports with regard to any of the above, if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to any person or entity;

(VII) With respect to nonprofit corporations incorporated pursuant to section 23-5-121 (2), C.R.S., matters concerning trade secrets, privileged information, and confidential commercial, financial, geological, or geophysical data furnished by or obtained from any person;

(VIII) With respect to the governing board of a state institution of higher education and any committee thereof, consideration of nominations for the awarding of honorary degrees, medals, and other honorary awards by the institution and consideration of proposals for the naming of a building or a portion of a building for a person or persons.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 08/25/2018 at 10:01 AM
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 08/24/2018 at 1:07 PM

Re: “UPDATE: El Paso County commissioners eye sheriff's tax extension

In 2012, El Paso County commissioners and Sheriff Maketa convinced voters that there just was not enough County tax money coming in for public safety. The .23-cent public safety measure passed in November. Less than one year later, those same county commissioners signed a letter committing over $40 million in funds collected as county sales tax to pay for the new Downtown City for Champions stadium that had just been proposed.

In 2016, County commissioners convinced voters to forego...forever...annual refunds of over-collected county taxes (TABOR refunds) of up to $14 million per year. For the first year, commissioners capitalized on the ire of residents over the inadequate capacity on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock and pledged that $7 million of the first year hold-back would assist in the widening project. Although commissioners knew and acknowledged in documents prior to election day that the $7 million would likely fund a TOLL LANE expansion of I-25, they never bothered to tell taxpayers before the vote. In subsequent years, there is nothing in the ballot language to restrict where the extra $14 million-per-year-forever tax increase must go. In the most recent budget cycle draft, according to one commissioner, much of it was slated to give county employees raises and none of it was slated to increase funding for county roads.

Plans for urban renewal in Southwest Downtown have been made public earlier in the summer and include the County handing over $40 million in money collected as County sales and property taxes to the Urban Renewal Authority to assist Norwood Development Group to realize their high-rise dreams in in Colorado Springs. Perhaps Commissioners should release a statement on their intent to approve such a diversion of county tax money before asking citizens to re-up the public safety tax increase.

It is also commonly expected that when the detailed financial plans that the City of Colorado Springs REFUSES to release do finally come out, there will be another expectation of money collected as county sales and property tax (in addition to money collected as City sales and property taxes) to help build the new and improved City for Champions stadium and arena downtown. Again, will commissioners state publicly, openly and transparently whether and how much theyll approve for a stadium project before going back to voters to provide money the county just doesnt have for public safety?

If voters are deceived into extending the public safety sales tax again without assurances that the County ill NOT be diverting county revenue for corporate welfare, wellI guess were all chumps and deserve the high taxes we have.

21 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 08/21/2018 at 7:18 PM

Re: “Downtown stadium project to be announced soon

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) IS public money. Not in a "remote sense," but in a direct sense. Hundreds of millions are collected as CITY sales and property taxes. Those dollars, instead of going to the City's general fund to pay for things like public safety, roads, stormwater and parks, go directly to the Urban Renewal Authority who then cuts the check to the developer. The City continues to give away growth to developers and turns around and asks taxpayers for more of their money because there isn't enough to take care of roads, staff and equip our police and firefighters or care for our parks after so much is siphoned off as corporate welfare to developers. It's sickening to watch people try to describe this as non-public money.

36 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Joel C. Miller on 07/21/2018 at 5:08 PM

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