Pueblo voters to decide on tax hike

By: Peter Roper The Pueblo Chieftain
June 28, 2013 Updated: June 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Six major Pueblo agencies or attractions - including the Colorado State Fair, the Pueblo Zoo and Pueblo Animal Services - will be asking county taxpayers to approve a half-cent sales tax increase in November.

The tax would raise $7 million a year that would be shared by the six organizations, replacing and adding to the money they have traditionally gotten from City Council and the Pueblo County commissioners each year.

Along with the fair, the zoo, and animal control, the other organizations that would share in the half-cent revenue would be the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, and the Nature and Raptor Center.

"This revenue would relieve the current budget pressure on the city and county and let them free up more general fund revenue for other services," Nick Gradisar, co-chairman of Puebloans Improving Our Community, said in announcing the campaign this week.

Rep. Joyce Lawrence, R-Pueblo, the other co-chair, called the six organizations important to the community and said she likes the tax initiative because it also requires the groups to be audited and account for the public dollars they would receive.

"It would also sunset in five years, meaning local voters would get to decide whether to continue the tax," she said.

Under the proposal, Pueblo Animal Services would receive $1.6 million from the tax with the fair, HARP, arts center and zoo getting $1.3 million each.

The Nature Center would receive $200,000 a year.

For most of those groups, their share would be a significant increase over the amount of city and county revenue they received this year.

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