Jul 12, 2010 5:38 PM by Stefanie Boe

VOTE IN OUR POLL: What to do with $600,000

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The city of Colorado Springs will end up with a $600,000 surplus this year.

As we've been reporting, Mayor Rivera and City Council are looking at asking voters if the city can take a "time out" from TABOR and use the money to fund some of the areas that have been cut this year--like Parks, Public Safety or street lights.

Monday, Mayor and Council talked about what to do about this surplus--they say this is separate from the TABOR "time out" they might ask voters for.

Under tabor law, the city is required to refund the excess money to taxpayers. If voters pass a ballot measure allowing them to keep it, all the funds have to be spent in 2010. A refund to taxpayers wouldn't mean much money back in their pockets. Each Colorado Springs Utilities resident would receive a $2.95 refund.

Putting a measure on the ballot could cost the city more money then it is worth. If this is the only question on the ballot in November, the city could be forced to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars just to ask voters for their approval.

Most council members agree that it would only be worth putting a measure on the ballot, if other measures were also present.

"Otherwise we are going to promise to spend $600,000 but then we are going to pay $200,000 or $300,000 out of the reserves to pay for an election," says Mayor Rivera.

Since the inception of Tabor, the city has asked the taxpayers to keep excess money 8 times. The ballot measure was approved 7 times.

If voters allow the city to keep it, the question of what to do with the money still remains. One proposal submitted during the informal meeting would give the money to the streets division for pothole repair. An estimated 24,600 potholes citywide could be fixed.

Most city councilmembers agree, the money could be put to better use.

"What I'd live to see is the departments compete for this money," says Vice Mayor Larry Small. " I'd like to see the departments come up with proposals on how they could best use the money to the best benefit of the taxpayers."

Other ideas discussed were using the money for storm water maintenance or to make up for service reduction in public safety, parks and recreation or other core services in 2011.

Tell us what you think, vote in our poll and leave a comment on this story.


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