Questions and confusion about ballot issue 1 TOPS extension.
MedWheel supports Colorado Springs ballot issue #1, the TOPS extension. We have received questions from members about a confusing NO! campaign for the TOPS extension in Colorado Springs that closes by mail ballot April 4.. Here are some clarifications to help you decide.
- It’s accurate that if the extension passes, 40.95% of the ~$12M/yr (approx value of the 0.1% TOPS sales and use tax) currently provided by the program will be used for acquisition of NEW open spaces. Just like it is today and has been for years, the TOPS extension would allow for 3% admin and 6% ‘maintenance’ to be allocated off the top, leaving 91% =$10.9M to be split into 3 categories: 60% = $6.55M/yr for Open Space, 20% = Parks, 20% Trails.
- Within the $6.55M/yr Open Space category, at least 75% of the Open Space category will be restricted to acquiring new open spaces only – and not be converted 100% to a maintenance fund, as the language would otherwise have allowed and was a cause for our concern with the 2021 TOPS ballot 2C. The inclusion of the 75% requirement is a huge victory for those of us who love trails and open spaces. Check out this statement from one of the founders of TOPS about this point.
- Contrary to what was reported on the NO! page, this 75% of OS requirements actually means LESS money can be used for project like the Pikeview quarry, which is on track for reclamation (at the cost of the current owner, the quarry company) and then inspection by state agencies as early as 2024. After approval from the Colo Department of Mining, Reclamation and Safety (DMRS), the property will be offered to the city of COS as a donation. The city can refuse the donation if they don’t believe the property can be safely used. Funding to create and operate a bike park isn’t secured now, and would involve significant community and business support. The TOPS program would hopefully play some part but could not be the primary funding source for the park.
- The NO! page also inaccurately states a deficiency that the proposal is a “resolution not an ordinance”. This is incorrect and misleads readers by confusing them. When a measure is placed on the ballot by “council referral” – rather than by citizens’ petition – a resolution is proposed, seconded, and voted on (in this case unanimously) to refer the measure to the ballot with very exact langue. A future administration cannot change it without another vote of the people. Here is the statement we received from the city’s legal department about it.
- The TOPS program has been and will continue to be rigorously, regularly, publicly audited for compliance with these requirements.
If you have additional questions about the TOPS extension on this April’s ballot please check here or email us, TOPS@medwheel.org