July 9, 2010
It may sound strange, given Colorado Springs’ exhaustive and well-publicized budget problems, but the city has nearly $600,000 in “excess” revenue that it can’t touch.
Yes, you heard right, extra money.
Love it or loathe it, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is the reason the city can’t spend a dime of that money — at least not without voter approval. TABOR restricts how much tax money the government can spend, and the city exceeded the TABOR property tax revenue cap for 2009 by nearly $600,000.
At 1 p.m. Monday, the City Council will consider various options on what to do with the money.
• Asking voters in November for permission to spend the money to fill potholes.
• Asking voters if the money can be spent on other city services, such as police and fire.
• Refunding the money through a credit on utility bills.
City staff is recommending that the money be used to fund pothole repairs.
“The majority of our community, one of the common links, is through our transportation infrastructure,” city spokeswoman Sue Skiffington-Blumberg said Friday. “No matter what neighborhood you live in, you’re using public streets.”
Mayor Lionel Rivera said the condition of city streets is a major source of complaints. But he said he’s not sure whether repairing potholes is the best use of the money.
“I would look at a more permanent fix, like adding it to the money that we will budget for street overlay and do more permanent fixes of some of the roads,” he said.
“I don’t know how much $600,000 would overlay, but there’s areas on Academy (Boulevard) or some of the major roads that people use that could use some work,” he said.
Vice Mayor Larry Small said he’d rather ask city department heads to submit proposals on how they would spend the money.
“Potholes is certainly something that we need to fund, but are there things that will provide higher value for the money than that?” Small said. “That’s the approach I’d like to take. It’s different. We’ve never done that before.”
If the city places a question on the ballot and the question fails, then the city must refund the money.
“I support giving the voters a choice,” Rivera said. “The voters will decide whether or not they want a refund or whether they want to use it for one-time expenditures.”
It’s unclear how many potholes the city could fill with $600,000.
Skiffington-Blumberg said that information will be available at Monday’s council meeting.
“I think that will be a fascinating figure,” she said.
CITY COUNCIL MEETING
1 p.m. Monday
City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.
Call the writer at 476-1623