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November 3, 2020 Special Municipal Election

The Colorado Springs City Council referred questions to be placed on the upcoming November Coordinated Election. 

What City Questions will be on the ballot?

The following Questions will be on the November 3, 2020 Ballot:

2A: TABOR Revenue Retention and Revenue & Spending Limitations

WITHOUT IMPOSING ANY NEW TAX OR INCREASING THE RATE OF ANY EXISTING TAX, AND TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE MUNICIPAL SERVICES  AFTER THE ECONOMIC DISRUPTION CAUSED BY THE COVID-19  PANDEMIC, SHALL THE CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS BE PERMITTED: TO RETAIN AND SPEND UP TO $1,900,000,  THE AMOUNT OF CITY REVENUES RECEIVED IN FISCAL YEAR 2019  ABOVE THE 2019 FISCAL YEAR REVENUE AND SPENDING LIMITATIONS, SOLELY FOR PUBLIC SAFETY; FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020, TO COLLECT, RETAIN AND SPEND THE FULL AMOUNT OF CITY REVENUES RECEIVED FROM ALL SOURCES;  AND FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021 AND THEREAFTER, TO COLLECT, RETAIN AND SPEND THE AMOUNT ALLOWED BY REVENUE AND SPENDING LIMITATIONS WHICH SHALL BE BASED UPON THE TOTAL ANNUAL REVENUES RECEIVED IN FISCAL YEAR 2019 AND PROPERTY TAX REVENUES RECEIVED IN 2020, ADJUSTED IN EACH FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING IN 2021 AND THEREAFTER ONLY FOR INFLATION AND CITY GROWTH OCCURRING IN THE PRIOR FISCAL YEAR AS PROVIDED BY CHARTER WHICH CONTINUES TO LIMIT FUTURE REVENUE GROWTH; ALL AS VOTER APPROVED REVENUE CHANGES AND EXCEPTIONS TO ANY CONSTITUTIONAL OR CHARTER LIMITATIONS THAT MAY OTHERWISE APPLY?

_____     Yes

_____     No

2B: Parkland Conveyances By Election of the Voters

SHALL THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS BE AMENDED TO ADD SECTION 11-80 THERETO, REQUIRING THAT SPECIFIED CONVEYANCES OF CITY-OWNED PARKLAND ONLY BE PERMITTED UPON A REFERRAL BY A SUPER-MAJORITY OF NOT LESS THAN SEVEN (7) MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL TO A VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF VOTES CAST AT A GENERAL OR SPECIAL ELECTION OF THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS OF THE CITY, AND PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS TO THE ELECTION REQUIREMENT ONLY FOR CONVEYANCES WHICH ARE JUDICIALLY ORDERED, RESULT FROM EMINENT DOMAIN, TITLE DISPUTES OR REGULATORY ACTIONS, CONSIST OF LEASES, TEMPORARY PERMITS, EASEMENTS OR CONSERVATION EASEMENTS, AND DE MINIMIS CONVEYANCES; PROVIDED THAT, IF THIS CHARTER AMENDMENT AND ANOTHER CHARTER AMENDMENT WHICH SUBSTANTIALLY PERTAINS TO CONVEYANCES OF CITY-OWNED PARKLAND ARE BOTH APPROVED BY VOTERS AT THIS ELECTION, ONLY THE MEASURE RECEIVING THE MOST AFFIRMATIVE VOTES SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE?

_____     Yes

_____     No

2C: Parkland Conveyances By Super-Majority of City Council

SHALL ARTICLE III, SECTION 3-70 OF THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS BE AMENDED TO REQUIRE THAT SPECIFIED CONVEYANCES OF CITY-OWNED PARKLAND ONLY BE PERMITTED UPON THE APPROVAL OF NOT LESS THAN A SUPER-MAJORITY OF SEVEN (7) MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL, AND PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS TO THE SUPER-MAJORITY APPROVAL REQUIREMENT ONLY FOR CONVEYANCES WHICH ARE AUTHORIZED BY THE VOTERS, JUDICIALLY ORDERED, RESULT FROM EMINENT DOMAIN, TITLE DISPUTES OR REGULATORY ACTIONS, CONSIST OF LEASES, TEMPORARY PERMITS, EASEMENTS OR CONSERVATION EASEMENTS, AND DE MINIMIS CONVEYANCES; PROVIDED THAT, IF THIS CHARTER AMENDMENT AND ANOTHER CHARTER AMENDMENT WHICH SUBSTANTIALLY PERTAINS TO CONVEYANCES OF CITY-OWNED PARKLAND ARE BOTH APPROVED BY VOTERS AT THIS ELECTION, ONLY THE MEASURE RECEIVING THE MOST AFFIRMATIVE VOTES SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE?

_____     Yes

_____     No

Ballot Questions

Register to Vote and Update Your Record

The City Clerk does not maintain voter registration, however, you can register online at the Colorado Secretary of State Website. If you have questions regarding your registration, please visit call El Paso County Elections website or call (719) 575-8683.

Special Municipal Election Mail Ballot Calendar

Questions & Answers

The City has received several questions regarding the November 3, 2020 City ballot questions.  The answers are provided here. 

2A: TABOR Revenue Retention and Revenue & Spending Limitations

Why does the City need to ask permission to spend all the funds it receives in 2020, since revenues will go down compared to 2019?

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits the amount of revenue that the City may retain and spend above a limitation calculated in accordance with TABOR. It requires that the City perform a that calculation on all revenue it receives (other than certain excepted revenues, such as Federal grants), and also a separate calculation for property tax.  For 2020, the anticipated property tax revenue is anticipated to slightly exceed the property tax specific TABOR limitation or “cap” due to the property re-assessment that occurred in 2019.  That reassessment increased the total assessed value for all property within the City, which will then increase the anticipated property tax revenue to be received in 2020. At this time, the growth in anticipated property tax revenue will likely exceed the TABOR allowed growth.  This would put the City over the property tax specific TABOR cap, even though the City anticipates being substantially below the all-revenue TABOR cap.

How much property tax revenue will 2A allow the City to retain?

If approved, Question 2A will allow the City to retain $1.9 million of revenue collected in 2019 above the TABOR limit for that year. It will also allow the City to retain and spend whatever amount of revenue comes in during 2020 from all existing sources.

What types of public safety expenses would be covered with the $1.9M retained funds? Payroll? 

The retained funds would provide funding for Colorado Springs Police Department patrol vehicle replacements and Colorado Springs Fire Department fire equipment. The retained funds would be a one-time source of funding and would not be allocated to an ongoing expense such as payroll.

If voters do not approve 2A how much money will be refunded to residents?

For 2019 excess revenues, approximately $9/household.   It has not been determined yet how any refund would be made.

Will the question allow the City to retain any other revenues above the TABOR cap aside from property taxes and sales taxes?

The TABOR calculation applies to the total of all revenue received, regardless of source, unless it is specifically excepted from the calculation in the TABOR constitutional provision or our City Charter. So, it also includes things such as fees paid to the City for services, interest on the City’s bank accounts, and many payments made by the State to the City. However, sales tax is the largest revenue source included and accounts for almost 60% of the revenue captured in the TABOR calculation.

How much lower are you expecting 2020 revenues to be compared to 2019 revenues?

At this time, we anticipate based upon projections, 2020 General Fund revenue will be about $22.8 million less than 2019 General Fund revenue.

How does protecting the City from the ratchet down effect help protect City services into the future?

Protecting the City from the TABOR ratchet down will help the City immediately by dedicating $1.9 million to Public Safety.  It will help the City going into the future by allowing the City to recover revenues at the same rate as the economy recovers, rather than being restricted by a ratcheted down TABOR cap, which could prolong the recovery period for 3 to 5 years. These revenues all support municipal services which would otherwise require some degree of reduction.

Could the City see cuts to services if 2A is not passed?

The City implemented spending and service cuts in 2020 as a result of the economic downturn that resulted from the stay at home orders issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These reductions have been carried forward into the planned 2021 Budget, in part because of lower revenue expectations, but also because the TABOR ratchet down will have the effect of lowering the TABOR cap, and would require that the City forgo using $7.5 million of the anticipated 2021 revenue.  These reductions can be expected to continue into the future until the TABOR cap eventually increases sufficiently to accommodate the reinstatement of those services.  These reductions include items such as less right of way weed spraying and mowing, less repairs and maintenance of parks, less maintenance of facilities such as pools and community centers, longer turnaround times for requests for service from the City.  If 2A is approved by voters, additional revenue will be available to the City, without any tax increases, to reinstate these services for our growing community.

What does “solely for public safety” mean?

Revenues received in fiscal year 2019 above the TABOR revenue and spending limitations, if voters approve, will be spent only on Police Department or Fire Department needs and expenses.

Why don’t we get rid of TABOR?

The City’s voters have not been asked to do this because citizen surveys have indicated that there is not sufficient public support to do so.        

Why doesn’t the City make budget cuts, as everyone in the private sector has to do?

The City has made $20 million in budget cuts in 2020 due to the revenue losses incurred due to the COVID pandemic. Cost savings have included implementing a hiring freeze/delay, cut back on major capital construction projects, reduction of right of way weed spraying and mowing, less repairs and maintenance of parks, less maintenance of facilities such as pools and community centers, reduced re-seeding of neighborhood parks, and reduction of facility maintenance.

The City has collected more money with the influx of all the new residents. Where has that money gone? I know my property tax has increased. Where has that money gone? Where is the marijuana money? Where is the lottery money?

The influx of new residents to the City increases the revenue to the City but also increases the demand for and cost of City services.  The additional revenue provides funds for the additional services required, which include pothole repair, traffic signal maintenance, public safety, and park maintenance.  Sales tax revenue from medical marijuana sales (recreational marijuana sales are prohibited in Colorado Springs) goes into the general fund to provide services such as medical marijuana license enforcement and public safety response. Lottery proceeds are legally restricted to expenditure on Parks, which is where that money goes.

Why doesn’t the City find savings or reallocate funds until City finances improve, for example take money from Trails and Open Space to use for necessities, before asking taxpayers for more money?

Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) funds are legally restricted to very specific types of spending for Parks.  Because they are voter-approved for use on parks, trails and open space, we cannot use the money on any other purposes without voter approval. Other sources of funding, such as Conservation Trust Funds (state lottery dollars) and other special grants and funding sources that typically pay for parks and trail improvements are also legally confined to those types of spending.  Other restricted-use funds include Public Safety Sales Tax (PSST) and the 2C Road Improvement tax.  The City is not asking the taxpayers for more money through increased taxes, but rather, is requesting permission to keep the revenues that come in from existing taxes.

Opponents of 2A say the City has a $600 M budget and that it has more than enough money to pull from other sources without asking taxpayers to retain excess revenues.  If that’s true, why is the City asking to retain these funds and reset the TABOR cap?

The City’s general fund is $331 M, not $600 M. Many of the City’s revenue sources have been restricted by law or the voters for specific purposes and cannot be used to fill shortages in the general fund.  The excess revenues the City is requesting to retain will go towards general fund expenses.

Why does the City want to reset the TABOR cap to reflect 2019 revenues instead of using 2020 revenues?

Because the 2020 revenue thus far is down significantly from 2019, and is anticipated to stay that way through the end of the year. This will cause the TABOR cap to be set approximately $20 M lower than it was in 2019. Without resetting the TABOR cap, the City revenue will only be allowed to grow at 2 or 3% from the lower value and would take 3 to 4 years to recover.  Resetting the TABOR cap to reflect 2019 revenues would allow the City to recover in 1 to 2 years, at the same rate as the local economy.

Could this have been avoided if we didn’t have a government shutdown due to COVID-19?

The “shutdown” imposed by the Governor and Department of Public Health and Environment of the State of Colorado has caused City sales tax and use tax revenues to decline 14% in March and 22% in April compared to the same months in the previous year.  Since reopening slowly in close coordination with public health experts, the local economy has been recovering. The City is asking that it be allowed to recover at the same pace as the economy, which would be quicker than it would if the TABOR cap is ratcheted down.

2B: Parkland Conveyances By Election of the Voters

2C: Parkland Conveyances By Super-Majority of City Council

What does “only the measure receiving the most affirmative votes shall become effective,” mean?

Questions 2B and 2C on the November 3, 2020 ballot both pertain to the conveyances of City-owned parkland.  If voters approve both questions, only the one with the most votes will become law.

April 6, 2021 Municipal Election

The City of Colorado Springs holds elections on the first Tuesday of April in odd-numbered years. The next general municipal election is April 6, 2021. Candidate filing packets for the six City Council District races will be available on January 4, 2021. If you would like more information about a municipal election, please email: Elections@coloradosprings.gov or call the City Clerk Office Election line at (719) 385-5901 option 4.