The Pueblo West View

Letter: A Pueblo West sales tax?

The Pueblo West metro board is moving to put a Pueblo West sales tax initiative to the upcoming May 6 election ballot.

Voters will be asked to approve a one percent sales tax that would increase the current rate on sales/purchases in Pueblo West from 3.9 percent (county 1 percent; state 2.9 percent) to 4.9 percent – a 26 percent increase.

The initiative will inform voters that, if approved, metro district sales tax revenues would be used exclusively for Pueblo West road maintenance.

Pueblo West road maintenance is covered under an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Pueblo County and the metro district.

As noted in that IGA, Colorado Revised Statutes state that providing for “all aspects of street improvement services” is a primary metro district purpose; and that “the County also has the lawful authority and jurisdiction to perform such duties respecting roads as may be required by law, including the maintenance and repair of … roads within unincorporated Pueblo County.”

Pueblo County collects a 30.959 property tax mill levy from Pueblo West property owners and one percent in Pueblo West-generated sales taxes.

Separately, the metro district collects only a 20.193 mill levy.

So, why are Pueblo West voters being asked for a sales tax to support metro district roads?

As noted, Pueblo West and Pueblo County have an IGA covering road maintenance.

Therein, the county cedes to the metro district it’s noted CRS powers over Pueblo West roads.

The IGA was negotiated during good economic times in Pueblo West – property and commercial development and home building were on the rise and local control over roads was seen by developers as essential.

Metro board members at the time were so eager to accommodate developers’ interests that they settled for little more than the right to control road development.

Either their eagerness for such control blinded them or they simply got snookered by county negotiators in consummating the deal.

All those board members got in the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the county was control over roads, and around $1 million annually passed along from state HUTF gas tax money. Consequently, the district’s financial resources for road upkeep are limited to the state HUTF money and the district’s property tax mill levy.

Now that subsequent metro board members have over-spent nearly all the district’s governmental fund reserves – much of it squandered: A $6 million fire station (including an exclusive sewer line); $350,000 planning a since-abandoned $8 million professional sports complex; $500,000 (50 percent) beyond budget on the new Civic Center Park; and over $300,000 yearly on effectively bankrupt Desert Hawk golf course – and since the economy is no longer so good, the current metro board is down to begging Pueblo West voters for a sales-tax-for-roads bailout.

The metro board should instead cancel the failed IGA and send road upkeep back to its rightful place, Pueblo County.

Who – other than those enabling souls who faithfully support long-standing flagrant metro board spending – will vote for an egregious Pueblo West sales tax?

Bill Clemens

Pueblo West

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