El Paso County voters spoke loud and clear in the Nov. 8 election that they want to keep funding improvements on roads and traffic operations. Nearly 80% of the county’s voters approved a request by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to extend the .55% existing sales and use taxes to fund specific capital projects.
The town of Green Mountain Falls is a member of the PPRTA whose projects were among the 160 listed on the ballot. Other members are unincorporated El Paso County and the cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Ramah and Calhan.
“Overall, I’m very pleased and happy with the voter support,” said Green Mountain Falls Mayor Todd Dixon. “The tax will enable us to do some things we need to do.”
Capital projects listed on the ballot are divided by importance, A and B lists.
Replacing the bridge on Ute Pass Avenue between Joyland and the fitness court is top of the A list for Green Mountain Falls. “I don’t think the bridge is hazardous and dangerous, but it definitely needs some love,” Dixon said. “As well, we need to rework the culverts downtown to see if we can’t correct drainage in the post office area.”
However, approval was only one part of the issue. Initially, the PPRTA board of directors intended to ask the members to fund the preliminary engineering and cost estimates for every item on the list of capital projects. “Really, that would be fairly catastrophic for Green Mountain Falls because we’d have to go after grant money to pay for those,” Dixon said.
As a member of the board of directors, Dixon balked. “They understand and the issue kind of died,” Dixon said.
The ballot issue listed the other A projects, improvements on El Paso Trail and Iona Street while the B list includes improvements to various bridges around town.
With the voter approval, the town is estimated to receive nearly $800,000 over the next 10 years when the tax sunsets Dec. 31, 2034.
Voters initially approved the tax in 2004 and extended it in 2014. Fifty-five percent of the revenue is slated for capital projects, 35% for maintenance and 10% for transit. The town’s share of the maintenance funding is estimated to be $163,000 over the next 10 years.
Dixon attributes the passage of the RTA extension, in part, to highlighting the need to the citizens. “One of the things I’ve tried to do is up the ante on communications, through newsletters, Facebook posts, because there are things coming up where I’m going to be engaging on a more regional level,” he said.
In January, Dixon will be one of a three-member commission overseeing the Pikes Peak Regional Building department.
The next board of trustees meeting is at 7 p.m. Dec. 13, which is off-schedule.