The current sales tax for trails, open spaces and parks in Colorado Springs, known as TOPS, is 0.10 percent, or one cent for every $10. It was initially approved by voters in 1997 and has a current sunset of 2025.
The city estimates that there's about a $270 million backlog of needs in the park system, and is looking for more flexibility in how funds are used. Colorado Springs also wants more money for maintenance projects.
If approved, measure 2C would extend that sunset date to 2041 and double the tax collected to 0.20%, or two cents for every $10. The Trails and Open Space Coalition, citing a report from the Trust for Public Land, estimates that this would be an additional $14 per year for the average household. There is ballot language that states this would not offset money that comes out of the general fund for these services.
The measure would also change the way funds are allocated or spent. For example, right now, 6 percent of the fund is spent on maintenance. If approved, this would raise that to 25 percent. Other allotments would change too, like how funds are divided among parks, trails and open space.
As part of this new budgeting method, the percentage of funds designated for parks and trails would increase, while the percentage of funds designated for open space would be cut in half. Advocates say, though, that because the sales tax would be doubled, the actual amount of money available for open space would stay about the same.
Critics of the measure are concerned that by changing how funds are divided between parks, trails, and open space that the potential acquisition of any new open space could be lost. In the signed resolution, council added that there's an intent to spend 75 percent of the open space money on acquiring and developing open spaces.
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