What is Ballot Issue 2?
Ballot Issue 2 in the City election on April 4, 2017 asks voters whether, without any increase in taxes, the City may retain and spend up to $6 million of revenues which exceed amounts otherwise authorized for retention in 2016 and 2017 under the City’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”) requirements. If approved, these funds may only be used for stormwater projects located within the city limits. View the exact Ballot Issue 2 language and the interactive map of the planned stormwater projects below.
How much revenue has been received over the amount allowed by TABOR and how much of that amount would be returned to taxpayers if Ballot Issue 2 passes?
The City estimates that the total amount of revenue in excess of the TABOR limit will be between approximately $8 million and $9 million, therefore the refund, after applying $6 million to stormwater projects, would be between approximately $2 million and $3 million. This would likely equate to a refund of approximately $10 to $16 per household.
What is stormwater and what does it mean for residents?
Stormwater is water that originates during precipitation events and from snow/ice melt. Stormwater can soak into the soil (infiltrate), be held on the surface and evaporate, or runoff and end up in nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies (surface water).
The City’s stormwater system is comprised of stormwater infrastructure that convey water (channels, culverts, creeks and waterways) and programs that are designed to control flooding, ensure proper water quality and comply with federally mandated water regulations to maintain the City’s MS4 permit which allows the City to manage stormwater runoff.
Why is the City asking voters to retain this money and apply it towards stormwater infrastructure as opposed to other City services such as public safety?
The City has a significant and urgent funding need for stormwater management, which is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against Colorado Springs by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. Therefore, the City must remain laser-focused on addressing that issue.
The additional funds would be used in 2017/2018 to help the City meet its funding requirements for its stormwater program in accordance with its agreement with Pueblo County while funding needed community projects.
Under the agreement, the City committed to spend an annual average of $17 million during 2016-2020 on stormwater infrastructure, maintenance and programs.
Dedicating this extra revenue to the City’s obligations now, during a period of strong economic growth, will provide financial security for future years when City revenues may be lower. Funding the obligations now will also help the City meet its obligations under the agreement without adversely affecting other vital City services.
What projects will be funded if this ballot issue passes?
It is planned that twenty-six stormwater projects within the city limits would be funded through this ballot issue. Two of the stormwater projects are required by the City’s agreement with Pueblo County and the additional 24 projects benefit local neighborhoods. View the interactive map below.
How were the projects selected?
All 26 projects were identified in the 2013 Stormwater Needs Assessment Project (SNAP) List that identified and prioritized needed stormwater projects within the City of Colorado Springs.
How many years will it take to complete the projects?
Total funding for all 26 projects is up to $12 million with up to $6 million in 2017 and $6 million in 2018 (provided revenue exceeds the TABOR cap in 2018 by up to $6 million). The 2017 projects will go into the design phase in 2017 with construction anticipated to start in late 2017 or 2018, depending on the size and scope of the project. 2018 projects will begin the design phase in 2018 with all projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
How will these stormwater projects be funded if Ballot Issue 2 does not pass?
All stormwater projects are currently funded through the City’s General Fund. In accordance with the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Pueblo County, the two IGA projects would be funded through the City’s General Fund. At this time there is no funding identified for the 24 community projects. However, they may be considered in the future on a case-by-case basis for emergency projects or if additional funds become available.
What will the refund amount be to the citizens if Ballot Issue 2 does not pass, and how would the refund be issued?
The $8 million to $9 million in excess sales tax revenues would likely equate to a refund of approximately $41 to $47 for each household.
Should this ballot measure fail, the excess revenue would be refunded to residents as City Council decides, but probably through a credit on their utility bill. Doing this, rather than sending as a property tax rebate, is a more equitable solution as it does not limit the refund only to homeowners, but includes renters, etc. This way, those who are contributing the money (via sales tax), would receive a refund.
Why are there excess revenues in the first place?
Under TABOR, state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without voter approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and local growth. Revenue in excess of the TABOR limit must be refunded to taxpayers, unless voters approve of the retention of that revenue by the City. There are many revenue sources included in the calculation of revenue that counts toward the TABOR cap. During 2016, tourism increased significantly, residential building was on a record pace, and the city’s overall economy was healthier, which led to strong sales tax growth and strong Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) growth. City sales tax revenues grew 9% in 2016 and TABOR only allows the City’s revenues to grow by 2.4%.
Map of proposed projects
Ballot Question 2 in the City election on April 4, 2017 asks voters whether, without any increase in taxes, the City may retain and spend up to $6 million of revenues each year which may exceed amounts otherwise authorized for retention in 2016 and 2017 under TABOR. If approved, these funds may only be used for stormwater projects located within the City limits.
This map shows two stormwater projects located within the City which are required by the City’s agreement with Pueblo County, and an additional 24 stormwater projects benefitting local neighborhoods. These projects could start in 2017 if the voters authorize retaining these funds.