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EDITORIAL: Colorado Springs, El Paso County voters choose to invest in the future

By: The Gazette editorial board
November 8, 2017 Updated: November 8, 2017 at 6:40 am
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photo - Associated Press file.
Associated Press file. 

With the economy sizzling, voters throughout El Paso County chose Tuesday to invest in the community's future and continue making Colorado Springs among the more envied metropolitan areas in the country.

Results included:

- Passage of El Paso County Issue 1A, which authorizes county government to keep $14.6 million in excess revenues to help fund widening of the I-25 gap between Monument and Castle Rock. Revenues will also fund disaster recovery, parks, trails and open space.

- Passage of Colorado Springs Issue 2A, which establishes a fee for residential, commercial and nonprofit properties to build and upgrade the city's outdated stormwater infrastructure.

- Passage of Colorado Springs School District 11 Issue 3E, a $42 million tax increase to fund teachers' raises, building repairs, technology upgrades, safety and security upgrades, debt reduction and counselors, nurses and psychologists.

- Passage of Widefield School District measures 3A and 3B, which will raise taxes and allow the district to borrow capital to recruit teachers, reduce class sizes, improve technology for students, improve security, upgrade buildings and more.

- Passage of Peyton School District measure 3G, which will raise taxes to recruit and retain teachers and renovate buildings.

- Passage of tax increases to hire and retain firefighters in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District's northern subdistrict.

Voters soundly approved all requests for taxpayer investment in community upgrades, in a metro area best known for an economically conservative electorate.

The results prove taxpayers are confident in the region's economic future and are satisfied with political leadership.

With passage of the stormwater fee, we urge the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to dispense with their joint lawsuit against Colorado Springs.

The suit was filed to resolve downstream liabilities caused by the community's neglect of drainage infrastructure, and voters Tuesday proved their commitment to funding a major, comprehensive, long-term solution. The objective of the lawsuit has been achieved.

Passage of 1A should encourage the Colorado Department of Transportation to make widening of I-25 a higher priority. The outcome should also improve the odds of Colorado winning a competitive federal grant for I-25.

Passage of new school revenues should help slow or reverse the exodus of good teachers to other states. Voters have spoken on school taxes, but their work is not done.

Starting today, business leaders, parents and others should get involved in helping school boards and administrators use the money to improve outcomes for kids. It takes a good school board, but it also takes a village. Hold elected leaders and administrators accountable for outcomes that help students.

Demographers announced Tuesday the projection Colorado Springs will surpass Denver's population within 15 years. Nothing indicates this city is headed anywhere but up.

Voters believe in the region's future, choosing Tuesday to invest in it.

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