Pueblo City Council strikes down half-cent loan for tourism project

Pueblo strikes down half-cent loan for tourism project

PUEBLO, Colo. - The majority of Pueblo City Council voted not to loan $14.4 million to the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority for the Regional Tourism Act project.

In a five to two vote, council decided not to allow the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority to spend money collected through the half-cent sales tax on a tourism expansion project. Only council members Steve Nawrocki and Chris Nicoll voted for half-cent funds to be spent on the project.

The money would get the ball rolling on expanding the convention center and the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo.

The majority of council members voted against the project, arguing that spending half-cent money on it goes against the voters' will since the fund is earmarked for primary jobs.

"The [Regional Tourism Act] committee wants us to raid the half-cent sales tax fund for infrastructure spending that does not create primary jobs," said Councilwoman Ami Nawrocki.

Councilman Chris Nicoll disagreed. He said a 2012 ordinance allows the city to spend half-cent money on tourism-related projects.  

"We have the resources to do this. It's our money. Why would you want to spend it poorly to achieve the same result? That doesn't make sense to me at all," Nicoll said.

The five council members who voted against the loan passed a resolution in support of issuing a bond of up to $11.9 million to pay for Professional Bullriders University, an exhibition hall that's part of the tourism project.

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