Manitou Springs still is weighing changes to a 50-year tax incentive agreement with the Pikes Peak Cog Railway approved by its City Council in June.

The pact provides tax breaks that the cog’s owners say are needed for the expensive reconstruction of the attraction, but it might be amended to provide more city revenue tied to increased cog ridership or ticket prices.

The council is to take a preliminary vote Oct. 23 on the proposed amendments and a final vote Nov. 7, City Councilwoman Nancy Fortuin said at a Tuesday night meeting that drew about 60 people to City Hall.

Residents can comment before both votes.

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The first vote had been slated for Tuesday, but officials decided to give residents more time to learn about the revised deal and ask questions, said Interim City Administrator Malcolm Fleming.

The city worked with the cog’s owners to come up with the changes, Fleming said.

Under the original agreement, the city would waive its use tax on the project’s equipment and machinery and would cap excise tax revenue that the city collects on cog ticket sales. Everything over that cap would go to the cog. The limit increases incrementally, from $500,000 in the first year to $750,000 in the 50th year.

The pact also requires the cog to pay Manitou Springs $1 million by 2019 to make up for lost tax revenue from the railway’s closure this year.

Under the proposed changes:

• The city still would cap the excise taxes. But in the second 25 years, the cog would pay at least 3.8 percent of the 5 percent excise tax. If ridership exceeded 375,000 in any year, the cog would pay the full 5 percent excise tax for every ticket sold above that threshold.

• The use-tax waiver also would apply to the cog’s purchase of more replacement rail cars expected to be needed in 15 to 20 years.

• In addition to paying the city $1 million by 2019, the cog would pay $250,000 in 2020 while the railway still is being built.

The railway never reopened this year after its winter closure because its owners, Oklahoma Publishing Co. and The Broadmoor, deemed it unsafe. They’re still determining whether the train can be rebuilt for $85 million, according to Gary Pierson, president and CEO of Oklahoma Publishing.

Oklahoma Publishing and The Broadmoor are owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.

County Government Reporter

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