COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — According to city officials, 60 percent of city streets in Colorado Springs need to be completely resurfaced or restructured.
That’s why Mayor John Suthers and city council voted to propose a .62 percent sales tax increase for five years.
“The fact of the matter is, there is not money that we can go out and grab today that’s going to fix our road problem,” Suthers said.
But the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity contracted a certified public accountant, Steve Anderson, who said there’s another way.
“Certainly, I think the last thing I ever want to do is go to a retiree’s pocket and take money out of their pocket, especially when they’re on a fixed income. And I don’t want to hurt my ma and paw small businesses,” Anderson said.
Those are the ones he said would be hit the hardest by a sales tax increase.
Instead, one thing Anderson suggests is that the city look at recovering $20 million in property taxes lost by granting exclusions.
“This is all the non-profits, churches, all that sort of thing. That’d be $4.3 million. Our total take for the City of Colorado Springs is $20 million. It’s simply doesn’t fix the problem,” Suthers said.
“Colorado Springs Utilities, when I look at their revenue, and I look at their cash and cash equivalents held, and I look at their property tax payment, what they make in lieu of property tax, it seems significantly low. And it seems like there’s a large amount of funds there without causing a rate increase,” Anderson said.
But Suthers said that could still cause a rate increase for taxpayers.
Suthers said he would like to continue this discussion and work with the AFP to make sure they are looking into ways on how to save money in the future.
Here are Anderson’s suggestions for city council:
- Recover $20+ million in property taxes lost by granting exclusions.
- Repurpose $8+ million in expiring bond payments for SCIP to infrastructure.
- Repurpose the Government Financial Officers Association (GFOA) recommended increase in ending balance of $20+ million to critical infrastructure issues.
- Insist the City receive its fair share in tax revenue from the Pikes Peak Regional Transit Authority (PPRTA) by holding them to their agreement to distribute funding based on population resulting in an increase in capital available for infrastructure projects from $3.4 million to $10 million a year.
- Fund $10+ million on a yearly basis from broadening the property tax base, cost savings and restructuring opportunities available to the City.
- End the policy of special favors and giveaways to special interests like the Wal-Mart in Fountain, University development, Business Improvement Districts and various Economic Development agreements.
According to the AFP, Steven Anderson’s research was based on the audited financials from the Colorado Springs 2014 Consolidated Annual Report along with documents including minutes, financial documents and other sources pertaining to the City’s operations.