Council refers strong mayor initiative to voters

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At this afternoon’s specially called Colorado Springs City Council meeting, council members unanimously agreed to put the “strong mayor” initiative on the ballot.

Actually, council members had no choice in the matter, once the City Clerk formally notified them that backers of the initiative had submitted petitions containing 25,591 valid signatures of registered Colorado Springs voters.

Former state senator Andy McElhany, who supports the measure, was pleased by the outcome.
“Now we’ll see what happens in November,” he said.

The council also abandoned plans to ask voters for a three-year Tabor “timeout” after city officials informed them that the city would be slightly under the Tabor cap for 2010 rather than $800,000 over the cap, as previously estimated. Mayor Rivera noted that, depending upon estimated revenue for 2011, the council might revisit the issue and refer a measure in the April election.

The council, however, referred two other measures to the voters.

Replaying a narrowly defeated 2009 issue, the council will ask voters to authorize the city to use 15 percent of the revenue from the Trails and Open Space, or TOPS, sales tax for the maintenance of all city parks, not just those purchased with TOPS funds. The measure would only be in effect for two years, and would provide the parks department with an additional $500,000 for the overall parks system.

Council members also approved a measure asking voter permission to retain $600,000 in “surplus” 2009 property tax revenue. The measure specifies that the funds would be used for “high priority road and bridge infrastructure repair.”

Councilmember Bernie Herpin predicted that voters would likely approve the measure.
“We’ve put seven or eight of these (revenue retention) questions on the ballot over the years,” he said, “and all but one have passed.”