Issues (and, yes, City Council members) important in Colorado Springs’ wacky, off-cycle election

03/07/2017 15:06

City elections in Colorado Springs take place by mail in March, which means they are off-cycle from federal elections, and in presidential campaign years like we’ve just gone through (can’t bring myself to say “survived”) voters are notoriously burnt out on politics. Even with the incredible ease of the exclusively vote-by-mail system, participation is never great. But this year there are, in addition to by-district City Council seats up for grabs, three very important ballot issues that voters in our fine city need to pay attention to:

Issue 1: Vote YES if you want to require that a 60 percent majority of voters by required before our publicly-owned Colorado Springs Utilities company can be sold off to a private company. At present, it only takes a simple 50 percent. This is too important an issue not to have more people making the decision.

Issue 2: Vote YES if you want the city to be able to keep revenue in EXCESS of caps imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR). If we vote yes, that should work out to about $7,000,000 in revenue from last year the city will get to keep -- all of it to be spent on stormwater projects. First point to know, TABOR is notorious for the crippling effect is has had on communities. Second point to know, the city won’t be able to honor its contractual agreements with other municipalities without the money. Third point, in case you missed it - FLOODS. Not having an adequate stormwater system in place is killing us.

Finally, Issue 3: Vote YES if you want to allow the city WITHOUT INCREASING TAXES to have the opportunity to provide, facilitate, partner, or coordinate with service providers for high-speed internet service, cable television service and telecommunication service.

The measure essentially exempts the city from Senate Bill 152, a big-cable-company-favoring state law that bars local governments from competing with corporations to provide high-speed internet to residents and businesses.

More than 100 cities in Colorado have approved a measure similar to this Issue 3, and a great number of them are providing internet to local customers at lower cost with better service. (Gigabyte speed services as compared to the 40 Megabytes typically offered, but rarely actually delivered, by the incumbents.). For many this better service at lower cost is generating revenue for their towns. For example, Longmont is collecting $1 million a month in new revenue, while customers pay less for service.