Colorado Springs, El Paso County voters open wallets for stormwater fees, I-25, school districts

Author: Billie Stanton Anleu, The Gazette - November 8, 2017 - Updated: November 8, 2017

SuthersColorado Springs Mayor John Suthers gives a thumbs up as he enters the celebration at Phantom Canyon Brewery in Colorado Springs for Ballot Issue 2A last year. (Photo by Christian Murdock/The Colorado Springs Gazette)

Voters in El Paso County shed their anti-tax reputation Tuesday, giving landslide approval to use $14.5 million in tax dollars for transportation and other projects, passing new stormwater fees for Colorado Springs and delivering a $46 million boon for School District 11, unofficial results showed.

Manitou Springs opted for a new mayor, and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority won the OK to spend up to $10 million of its money on the widening of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, according to totals with about 85 percent of the ballots counted.

The stormwater fees, Ballot Issue 2A, were considered critical by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, as the city fights a federal and state lawsuit over the longtime neglect of stormwater infrastructure that Suthers inherited 2½ years ago. The fees will cost homeowners $5 a month and commercial and industrial property owners $30 monthly per acre, though those fees have no cap and could change over the next 20 years.

District 11, meanwhile, had tried for 17 years to beef up its budget as other school districts in the region repeatedly won tax increases, bond issues or both to compensate for withering state education funds. The victory in D-11, the city’s biggest school district, brings money for building maintenance, better teacher and support staff pay, smaller class sizes and more funding for charter schools, among other improvements.

It will cost homeowners about $3.75 a month in property taxes per $100,000 of property value.

Approval of Ballot Issue 1A means the county can keep $14.5 million in tax revenue considered “excess” under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The extra money will go primarily toward closing the gap on I-25 — the project also OK’d for the PPRTA — but also for disaster recovery, parks, trails and open space projects.

Manitou Springs bid adieu to Mayor Nicole Nicoletta, with early voting showing a 2-1 preference for mayoral candidate Ken Jaray.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Billie Stanton Anleu, The Gazette