I founded this newspaper and I also own the Pikes Peak Bulletin, the community newsweekly serving Manitou Springs. These papers operate independently, but because of our belief in transparency, I have been asked to pen this explanatory note.
On June 11, Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray unveiled his plan for a 50-year tax subsidy to help rebuild the Cog. He announced at that time that he was going to push for a final binding vote on the complicated tax package in just two weeks’ time.
In a front page June 21 editorial in the Bulletin, I called on our mayor and council to slow down the process in order to give citizens more time to understand the ramifications of the agreement, as well as to gather needed information on how the deal would impact our town financially and via increased traffic congestion, already exacerbated due to the popular Incline trail.
Today, negotiations are still ongoing, largely due to a lawsuit filed by attorney Howard “Buddy” Morrison on behalf of Manitou residents seeking the ability to hold a citywide vote on this complex deal. In an effort to get this lawsuit dropped, the Cog and the Manitou City Council are now trying to broker a deal that will persuade Morrison’s plaintiffs to drop their suit.
I hope that can happen, a fair deal can be re-negotiated, the Cog will be rebuilt, and our town will not face yet another divisive debate. While the Bulletin has editorialized that citizens should be able to vote on this issue, neither I nor the Bulletin are involved in the lawsuit. Nor are we part of the citizens group, Committee for the Defense of Manitou, that has been running paid ads in the Bulletin outlining citizen concerns.
The good news is that as the Bulletin recently reported, it appears the Cog has now agreed to many needed changes, including indexing future payments to the inflation rate.
My personal hope is that if additional subsidies are needed, the City of Colorado Springs — with a population roughly 85 times as large as Manitou’s — will contribute the funds to ensure that this wonderful train up America’s Mountain can be rebuilt.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article indicated that the Cog’s attorneys appeared to have accepted an offer capping subsidies at $10 million. They have not accepted the offer.