Oct 10, 2013 9:11 PM by Joanna Wise

Possible half cent sales tax hike for Pueblo County

Underneath the roof of an outdoor exhibit, squeals and screams drowned out the sound of the rain.

"I see one!" One boy pointed out. "Oh, it's chewing on that tree!"

Abby Krause, the spokesperson for the Pueblo Zoo says this sight never gets old. She stood next to the group of kids as they gazed at the otters playing behind a glass barrier.

"They look like pandas," one of the girls exclaimed.

This is one of the reasons why she loves her job. But she can't ignore the hard reality. Each year, the zoo's budget gets smaller and smaller.

"We have to feed the animals everyday," she said. "We've been here for a while, so we have some aging facilities."

That's why, in November, she's saying "yes" on 1A. It's a half-cent sales tax, proposed on the November ballot, that would benefit these six non-profit organizations: the Pueblo Zoo, the Colorado State Fair, Pueblo Animal Services, the Nature and Raptor Center, Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and Conference Center and the Arkansas River Walk.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace says the money would help attract more tourists, and at the same time, free up money in the city and county's budget.

"These organizations are now receiving, between the city and the county, $4M. dollars a year," says Pace. The half-cent sales tax is expected to bring in $7.5M. a year.

If 1A is passed, those six non-profit organizations will no longer receive money from the county or the city. Pace says the county will put that extra money toward road and infrastructure repairs.

Here's how the money would be distributed to the six entities:

Pueblo Zoo- $1.3M
Colorado State Fair- $1.3M
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and Conference Center- $1.3M
Arkansas River Walk- $1.3M
Pueblo Animal Services- $1.6M
Nature and Raptor Center- $200K

Pace says there will be an oversight committee to make sure the money is being spent responsibly. 90% of the money has to be spent on new programs or projects. For Kraus, that means bringing back a memory many Puebloans cherish.

"Monkey Mountain is a treasure for a lot of people in Pueblo, and we would love to bring it back."

But what does this mean for your pocketbook? Let's say you spend $100 on clothes every month. If 1A is passed, you'll shell out an extra 50 cents a month on top of that $100.

"It means such a small amount at the cash register, but for us, it really adds up," says Krause.



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