COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– The Colorado Springs City Council approved a twenty-year extension of the Trails, Open Spaces and Parks sales, the use of tax through 2041 and increasing the .1% to .2% on a $10 purchase.
TOPS is a sales and use tax to maintain the trailers, open spaces and parks which would have expired in 2025 when it was originally approved in 2003.
In 2013, voters expanded TOPS use to include both maintenance and development of all city parks. With this new ballot question update, TOPS revenues could be expanded to include all city trails and open spaces.
Voters should see the question on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Special Municipal Election as follows:
Shall City taxes be increased $11,134,000 annually beginning Jan. 1, 2022, and by whatever amounts are raised in years thereafter, by increasing the rate of sales and use tax dedicated to trails, open space and parks (TOPS) from its current rate of 0.1% (one tenth of a cent) or 1 penny on every $10 purchase, to 0.2% (two tenths of a cent), or 2 cents on every $10 purchase, except for purchases of prescription drugs, food and other purchases exempted from sales tax, without changing the purposes, which include:
- Preserving fragile ecosystems, natural areas, scenic vistas and areas, fish and wildlife habitats and corridors, and important areas that support biodiversity, natural resources and landmarks;
- Conserving natural resources, such as water aquifer recharge areas, surface water and forest lands;
- Acquiring, developing and maintaining open space lands and trails; and
- Acquiring, developing and maintaining parks.
With all expenditures based on recommendations of an advisory committee and subject to independent audit; with no more than 5 percent of revenues derived to be used for administration, planning and program management, and no more than 25 percent for maintenance and operations of all city parks, trails and open space lands, and the remaining revenue divided into 40 percent used for acquisition, development and maintenance of all parks, 30 percent for acquisition, development and maintenance of all trails, and 30 percent for acquisition, development and maintenance of all open space lands, regardless of how acquired; and with the intent of the voters that monies derived from the increase should not offset expenditures from the general fund; and extending the expiration of the TOPS sales and use tax to and until Dec. 31, 2041; the above constituting a over-approved revenue change and exception to any constitutional, statutory and charter revenue and spending limitations that may otherwise apply?
In the last 24 years, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department has acquired over 7,000 acres of open space, created 25 parks, improved 41 parks and built 50 miles of trail utilizing TOPS funds.
To learn more about TOPS and its history, visit this website.