NewsSouthern Colorado

Manitou Springs’ deal with Cog Railway can’t go to public vote, by law

Author: Ellie Mulder, The Gazette - July 25, 2018 - Updated: August 9, 2018

Pikes Peak Cog Railway passengers are welcomed by frigid temperatures as they unload at the summit of Pikes Peak on Saturday, Oct. 15. Recent storms have brought a layer of early snow to the peak, as harsher weather begins to usher out the fall colors on the mountain’s Aspens. (Photo by Mike Christy, The Gazette)

A ballot issue petition sought to upend a deal between Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway cannot legally move forward, Mayor Ken Jaray said Tuesday.

Residents can void a recently passed ordinance by petitioning for a public vote on it, but that provision doesn’t apply to contracts, Jaray said.

“The rationale is that if a municipality … enters into a contract with a third party, the third party relies on that contract,” he said. “It’s not appropriate to have the community, who may or may not like that vendor or whatever it is, to come and overturn that contract.”

The city clerk and city attorney considered allowing the petition but ultimately decided to stand by the law, Jaray said.

The 50-year pact would give Oklahoma Publishing Co., parent company of The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs and the Cog Railway, two tax breaks to help finance reconstruction of the railway for an estimated $75 million to $95 million.

The City Council approved the deal 6-1 on June 26.

John Weiss, who proposed the petition, said he and other opponents of the deal are exploring their legal options.

“We believe that voters should be able to vote on this matter,” he said.

Oklahoma Publishing and The Broadmoor are owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette and Colorado Politics.

Weiss also had said he would raise money to buy The Denver Post, with a proposal by Oct. 1 to either buy The Post or create a new daily print product in Denver.

“We have several major funders interested, and we are in the process of developing a proposal for them,” he said. “We’ve been working on it for three months.”

Ellie Mulder, The Gazette

Ellie Mulder, The Gazette