City hopes to boot TABOR 

Council will consider April ballot issues

After nearly a month away from City Hall, City Council will return to its chambers Jan. 6 and consider asking voters to dump the city's special Taxpayer's Bill of Rights requirements. Depending upon what city leaders think, voters could decide the future of this Douglas Bruce-spawn in the April municipal election, though any changes would have no effect on the enforcement of the more famous state TABOR requirements.

Dan Stuart, chairman of the city's Sustainable Funding Committee, which plans to make the recommendation, says repealing the city's TABOR will allow local enterprises to spend more money on improvements than they're currently allowed.

"This, I wouldn't expect would cost anyone money because we're still subject to state TABOR," Stuart says, noting Colorado Springs is the state's only city with its own version of TABOR. "It's a matter of trying to save money and keep enterprises like the airport keep their options open to long-term improvements."

Repealing TABOR may be difficult. Voters ousted Bruce from the Legislature and turned down his 2008 ballot initiatives, but they also panned the county's proposed sales tax increase and turned down an attempt to gut the state's TABOR and benefit education. If voters think repealing the city TABOR will cost them money, Stuart says, there's a good chance they won't repeal it.

"There will certainly need to be some public education on this," Stuart says.

The committee is also recommending that Council ask voters to let the city keep about $800,000 collected in 2008 that exceeds TABOR limits, and to extend a mill levy that earns about $3 million annually past its expiration at the end of 2009. JAS

Pure as the mom next door

Teens who took an abstinence pledge went on to have just as much sex as their non-pledging peers and then used less birth control, according to a new study by a Johns Hopkins University researcher.

The study employed federal data to compare a group of teens who formally promised not to have premarital sex with a second group of teens who didn't make a promise, but who held similar religious views and attitudes toward sex. "Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," researcher Janet Rosenbaum told the Washington Post.

Federal funding for abstinence-only sex education has increased dramatically during the Bush administration, to more than $200 million in 2008, Rosenbaum writes in the journal Pediatrics. While other researchers have questioned the effectiveness of abstinence pledges, she claims to be the first to make an "apple-to-apple" comparison by comparing groups with similar backgrounds.

Randy Wilson of Colorado Springs, who hosted the ninth Father Daughter Purity Ball last May at The Broadmoor, says he doesn't think this kind of research applies to his event, which asks fathers to take a pledge to be their daughters' "authority and protection in the area of purity."

"We're calling fathers to be there for their children," Wilson says. AL

State budget view darkens

With no one certain how bad the state's budget problems will be in 2009, it's a bad sign that Gov. Bill Ritter's office is now saying its projected shortfall once fairly low was based on outdated information.

The Denver Post reports that Ritter's office now projects a $230 million shortfall for the fiscal year ending in June. This is more than three times the amount Ritter's office projected less two weeks ago, though it's still rosier than the $600 million shortfall projected by legislative staff.

However big the shortfall turns out to be, expect state budget cuts and a legislative session punctuated with the question, "How are we going to pay for that?" AL

More four-day weeks

The clerk's offices and the health department are the latest branches of El Paso County government hoping to save a few bucks on utilities by shifting to a four-day work week.

Beginning Jan. 5, the clerk's offices at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., and Powers Branch, 5650 Industrial Place, will only be open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The branch at Chapel Hills Mall, on the north side next to JCPenney, will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The health department, which eliminated 37 positions as its budget shrunk by more than $1 million, will also shift to a Monday-through-Thursday schedule Jan. 5, keeping its office at 301 S. Union Blvd. open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on those days.

El Paso County started the four-day plan for many of its administrative offices as a cost-saving measure in late 2007. AL

Kato returns home

Kato the pit bull, detained by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region on Oct. 18 for seeming dangerous (but not actually biting anyone), has been returned to his owners. (See the original story at csindy.com: "Good dog. Bad dog." News, Dec. 4.)

Partners Kelly Holmes and Eugena "Genie" Fisher say they were overjoyed when their pooch was allowed to return to their Old Colorado City home Dec. 19. Kato will be home at least until Holmes and Fisher go to trial on charges of owning a dangerous animal. Another charge, for failing to restrain Kato, was apparently dropped.

Fisher and Holmes were charged after a Humane Society officer came into their yard and said he felt threatened by Kato. The officer says Kato lunged at him. Fisher, Holmes and a witnessing neighbor say the dog just brushed past the officer on the way to the front yard. JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.


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