Business Alliance supports two ballot initiatives, endorses candidates

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance is endorsing the El Paso County sheriff in his appeal to raise taxes to provide money for critical operations.

Sheriff Terry Maketa is asking for a .o023 county-wide sales tax, which would produce $17 million a year for eight years to hire more jailers and more deputies for patrol, wildfire and emergency response.

“The sheriff’s office is essentially the same number of deputies as 15 years ago while the general population, service calls and population of the jail have grown dramatically,” said Doug Quimby, chairman of the Business Alliance board of directors. “This creates a safety and security problem in the jail and results in dangerously slow response times when residents call for help and when deputies need backup. Our board recognizes that the Sheriff’s Office provides critical public safety services to all El Paso County residents and El Paso County has the lowest cost of service per citizen of any of Colorado’s large counties.”

If approved by voters, Issue 1A would add 23 cents to a $10o purchase. Groceries and prescription drugs are exempt.

In a press release announcing the board’s support for the proposal, Quimby said that public safety is “an important element in attracting new jobs to our community,” and said the sheriff’s request was both “appropriate and necessary.”

For his part, Maketa said he appreciated the alliance’s support.

“I understand how difficult it is for business leaders to support any tax increase, even one as small as this. So I’m happy to see they understand the situation we’re in. The needs of my office simply have not been met for so many years that we now have failing locks in the jail, failing radio communications, insufficient staffing for emergency planning and wildfires, and far too few deputies to safety patrol an area the size of El Paso County.”

The board is also supporting candidates Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey, all incumbents, for El Paso County Commission seats.

Candidate Support:  The board has also made a decision to officially endorse the following candidates for El Paso County Commissioners in the November 6 election:

  • Amy Lathen, Commissioner District 2
  • Sallie Clark, Commissioner District 3
  • Dennis Hisey, Commissioner District 4

The selections were based on Political Action Committee interviews, community involvement, experience and pro-business advocacy, the group said in a press release.

“The Business Alliance is focused on strong business development actions for the Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak region and believes these experienced candidates have helped to create a culture in El Paso County that is dedicated to being business friendly and breaking down the barriers to business that can hinder economic growth,” the release said. “Their support for the military installations in the region and for strong infrastructure development including transportation, water resources and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority extension are all important to the economic future of our community.”

Other recommendations:

- The alliance also recommends a “no” vote on Amendment 64, which would decriminalize the use of marijuana in Colorado.

  • The Business Alliance is in favor of Special Districts 5A, a citizen-led initiative to extend the .55 percent of one-cent sales and use tax for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority for another 10 years. The money will be use to pay for specific transportation projects.