Colorado Springs Mayor Sticks it to Taxpayers — Again
In my 2015 blog, Who is Buying Colorado Springs Issue 2C? about donors to the “pothole tax” ballot issue, I promised to follow up on who got 2C road contracts compared to who donated to help ensure its passage.
A clear concern was this: Were donors to 2C also the recipients of the 2C road contracts?
There are many similarities between 2C donors and those companies that were awarded contracts related to 2C projects, and to the unions or trade associations likely to have these companies as members.
How did the larger donors fare?
The following four companies donated and were awarded direct contracts:
The following four companies are likely subcontractors of the four above. Although they were not directly awarded contracts, we visually verified that the first three companies below had equipment at 2C construction sites, and a call to their offices verified that they are doing 2C work. Kiewit Infrastructure may be a subcontractor, or they may not be.
These following six donors are trade associations or unions, so they wouldn’t have an actual contract for work. It is reasonable to believe, based on the nature of the organizations, that their members would be involved in 2C work.
Sources: https://coloradosprings.gov/2c (Oversight and Reports Tab), and https://campaignfinance.coloradosprings.gov/CampaignFinance/Query/Filings
You can do your own math, but I see a direct tie to the companies and associations that supported the 2C campaign and the contracts that were awarded.
A large donation didn’t guarantee a contract, but it sure didn’t hurt.
And here’s the thing: I don’t blame the donors. They see a way to get a leg up on a contract —call it business development. All that big money is used to buy ads, mailers and other media that persuades the voter how necessary a “yes” vote is. But that money is just what confuses the argument. Did the donors think the tax was the only way to fix the roads, or did they just want to expedite their contracts? It’s a question voters should ask. Again, I don’t blame the donors for this.
I blame the politicians. I made the case in 2015 that the city could have met its road repair needs without raising taxes. The city leaders disagreed and got their sales tax increase passed.
Now, they’re at it again, proposing a new fee increase that they say is needed for Stormwater infrastructure.
In my recent op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette , I wrote about the pattern of the city leaders continuing to ask taxpayers for more money without demonstrating that they are tightening the belt, just like we have to do at home. That op-ed focused on the upcoming Stormwater ballot issue, called Issue 2A.
Those in the developer community, whose properties are exempted from the new fee, are likely to be the biggest donors to 2A. They will spend big money to persuade Colorado Springs voters to say yes to the new fee. Those same developers, who own vast tracts of undeveloped land, won’t have to pay the fee on those properties. That’s just wrong.
Voters can take control of city overspending by voting no on future tax and fee increases. Stop giving the Mayor extra money, and force him to prioritize —just like we do in our own family budgets.
There are two opportunities to say NO in November.
Second is El Paso County ballot issue 1A, that the County Commissioners voted to place on the November ballot to allow them to keep our TABOR overages.
If these two ballot issues pass in November, what will it take for voters to say no? Will they say no on the 7th attempt? The 8th?