2A: Colorado Springs mayor concedes in effort to retain TABOR money for police training facility

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Colorado Springs Police headquarters, June 12, 2023.

Last updated Wed. Nov. 8 at 11:45 a.m.

Early results suggest Colorado Springs voters are shying away from allowing the city to retain $4.75 million in TABOR tax refunds for a new police training facility. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, 52 percent of voters are rejecting the measure.

In a statement Wednesday conceding the issue, Mayor Yemi Mobolade thanked those who supported 2A and reaffirmed his commitment to support the police department.

"Despite this result, the new facility for the Police Training Academy will still be constructed,” he said. “As always, we will get creative piecing together the funding needed to ensure our community is safe."

The money is excess tax revenue that Colorado Springs would otherwise send back to taxpayers under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR. The estimated refund is just over $20 per account holder with Colorado Springs Utilities.

Colorado Springs city council referred the measure to the ballot in August with a 7-1 vote. 

Mobolade called the measure a chance for residents to collectively help fund a suffering police service. Police Chief Adrian Vasquez has said the current facility doesn't have enough space to train recruits while also offering continuing education to existing officers, thus impacting the department's goal of a continuous hiring and training process.

Critics of the measure questioned CSPD's need for the funds, with some saying they fear adding officers would disproportionately impact disenfranchised communities. The measure comes at the same time that the department faces a handful of lawsuits regarding the use of force.

A new training facility is expected to cost up to $45 million, depending on whether the city renovates an existing building or purchases a new property. Mobolade has said the cost to retrofit a property would likely fall between $12 million and $21 million. A brand new facility could cost more than twice that.

Mobolade has said the city will continue moving forward with a facility despite the results of this ballot question. Doing so will require dipping into the city's reserves, using public safety sales tax revenues or pursuing a bond measure.

As of earlier this year, CSPD had just over 730 sworn officers with 88 open positions.