COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – It is an outcome many voters were not expecting as El Paso county voters reject ballot measure 2C.
Measure 2C if passed would have raised the original Trails, Parks, and Open Spaces tax or TOPS tax from one cent to two cents on any $10 purchase.
Susan Davies, executive director of Trails and Open Spaces Coalition said the tax would have generated more money for city parks.
“It doesn’t change anything. We still need money to maintain our parks, we still need to build those promised parks we still need to buy open space. By not winning this we have to regroup,” Davies said.
Davies said the voter turnout may have been the problem. With only 32%\ of general turnout this election.
“We know we are a city of ultra users, which means that people in this city use their parks more frequently than most other cities in the country. Now, where was the disconnect? Why did those same ultra users choose not to vote for their parks, trails, and open spaces? We’ve got to figure that out,” Davies said.
Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers another supporter of the TOPS tax said it could have even been how the measure was written and the amount asked.
“I think we’d have to look at what the next iteration would look like. I think I am going to encourage the council that maybe we talk about a smaller number, but we’ll just have to see what that looks like,” Suthers said.
Suthers said a smaller tax amount may help, but the city’s park backlog is still a problem that needs to be addressed.
“That’s not going to impact the huge backlog that the department has in terms of developing park land that needs to be developed. There simply is not the money for that,” Suthers said.
“So those 15 unbuilt parks, they are going to stay unbuilt and that’s really sad and some of those padlocked tennis courts and some of those playgrounds that need to be fixed we are not going to see those things get done,” Davies said.
The existing TOPS tax will continue until 2025, but Davies said they are not going to give up on it and asked for an extension or another increase in four years.
“We still have four years so there will be an opportunity at some point to go back and at least get an extension for this program. It’s a popular program this perhaps was the wrong election to take it but you know we’re just speculating,” Davies said.
“I’d hate to see TOPS go away, and as of right now, TOPS will expire in a couple of years and we’d have nothing for our trails, open spaces, and parks,” Suthers said.