Clearing up ‘rumors’ regarding incorporation
The Pueblo West MetroPolitan Board of Directors recently held a work session on Dec. 13 facilitated by Dr. Robert Wonnett of UCCS’s School of Public Affairs and served as a primer and informational overview on incorporation.
The briefing also served to address many of the rumors and misconceptions regarding incorporation that inevitably occur when the issue is brought up for discussion.
In response, a letter to the editor was published in the Pueblo West View describing an informal incorporation study led by community members in Pueblo West.
While this informal incorporation study was an excellent jumping off point for recent discussions, it is outdated and does not provide a detailed market analysis of the economic conditions required for incorporation.
The outdated informal study falls short of the information contained in a grant funded formal incorporation study which could be provided to the district free of any cost to the taxpayers.
To clarify, a formal study is different than the informal study conducted by community members in that it would be completed by impartial professionals and subject matter experts specializing in the fiscal and organizational aspects of incorporation; and can provide market analysis, economic benchmarks, and required revenue thresholds if conditions are currently not appropriate for incorporation.
An updated formal and objective incorporation study would allow voters to make an informed decision on the issue of incorporation in the future.
Discussions with local residents have demonstrated that community dialogue based on outdated information has only served to perpetuate misinformation and misunderstanding on this issue.
In the interest of democracy, every Pueblo West resident should be given these facts so that they can make their own decision.
Many of the misconceptions that have been discussed related to incorporation have primarily focused on concerns about bigger government or taking on responsibilities that are not actually required by municipalities.
Castle Pines is a great example of a recently incorporated city that only employs five full time employees to provide services to 10,000 residents, effectively contracting out every other service, including law enforcement and municipal court.
At the same time, they are able to control the future of their community through their own planning and zoning authorities that were previously controlled and enforced by the County.
Since the informal study was conducted, the retail marijuana industry has been established; potentially an additional source of sales tax.
Many residents believe they don’t pay sales tax, but in reality the retail surplus and leakage report for Pueblo West says we do — just in other places.
Pueblo West residents pay approximately $3.5 million in sales tax to the City of Pueblo and other surrounding communities that is used to improve their infrastructure.
If we could capture a portion of this, it would have a great impact on improving our infrastructure.
Most of all, Pueblo West is not capturing any revenue from the 1.8 million visitors that come through Pueblo West every year to go to Lake Pueblo State Park which clearly impact our roads and infrastructure.
Lastly, it is important to understand that it is not necessarily up to the Metro District Board to place incorporation on a future ballot.
It only takes 150 registered electors who are land owners and residents to have incorporation placed on the ballot, and we owe it to our community and our residents to know the costs and benefits of such an action before residents make that decision.
Social Media analysis already shows that more than 150 residents positively support an incorporation effort, which means our community needs to be prepared should a public initiative put this issue on a ballot in the future.