081021-news-tabor

A man holds his son’s hand while his other child rides in a carrier on his back, adorned in a bear hat, during a Bear Run at Bear Creek Regional Park event in this file photo from November 2019.

El Paso County commissioners will take a closer look this month at a proposed November ballot question that, if voters approve, would use $15 million in excess government revenue to fund road infrastructure projects and deferred parks maintenance county officials say are sorely needed.

Commissioners will discuss the possible ballot question during the board’s regularly scheduled meetings Aug. 17 and 24. Residents can come to these hearings to offer input on the possible question before commissioners vote on whether it will make it onto the November ballot. Commissioners expect to vote on the matter Aug. 24.

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Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, ties increases in most local government revenues to a formula based on population growth and inflation. Excesses can only be used for voter-approved purposes.

The county will refund $7.1 million in excess 2020 revenues to residents through property tax credits regardless of how the proposed ballot question moves forward, county officials said in a Monday news release announcing the hearings. The 2020 refund, they said, is “important to ensure full community recovery from COVID-19.”

If commissioners put the question on the ballot and voters approve it, the county would use $15 million of surplus 2021 revenues to pay for backlogged roadway improvements like paving and repairing potholes, and deferred parks maintenance, county spokesman Ryan Parsell said.

That $15 million would be restricted for these specific projects and commissioners will use resident input to develop a project list, he said.

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“Our Department of Public Works estimates we have hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance road needs in our county. This is one option to address the problem, but our citizens are smart and informed. We need to hear from them to see what ideas they have,” El Paso County Commission Chairman Stan VanderWerf said, in part, in the release.

If commissioners vote to place the question on the 2021 ballot after public comment, it would be the first time since 2017 the county held hearings about a ballot question. Commissioners refunded $4 million to residents in 2018, $3.1 million in 2019 and will refund $7.1 million from 2020.

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The meetings begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 17 and 24 at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave. in Colorado Springs.

Residents can participate in the hearings in person or remotely. Meetings are streamed on the county website at elpasoco.com by clicking on the “TV” icon in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage.

Residents can also stream the meeting on the county Facebook page, facebook.com/ElPasoCountyCO or watch on Comcast channel 59 and CenturyLink channel 1089.

Residents can comment on the proposal in person, on the county Facebook page, email the commissioners directly or through Microsoft Teams at bit.ly/3xxEk1Z. For a list of commissioner email addresses, visit bocc.elpasoco.com.

To participate in the meetings by phone, call 1 (719) 283-1263 and use phone conference ID: 702 866 973#.

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Reporter

Breeanna Jent covers El Paso County government. She previously worked as the editorial assistant for the Pikes Peak Newspapers and joined their sister paper, The Gazette, in 2020.

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