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City Council banking on 1A passing to avoid possible layoffs

City Council banking on 1A passing to avoid possible layoffs

PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo City Council is banking on a sales tax increase to fix its budget problems and avoid possible layoffs.

If Question 1A doesn't pass on Election Day, about 30 city employees could lose their jobs. City Manager Sam Azad said it's one of the possibilities he's exploring to help balance the city's $75 million budget.

"I have to my plan B, C, and D in place and know what direction to go as soon as we find out," Azad said.

One of those plans includes laying off about 30 city employees.
"The majority of us are not interested in cutting staff," said Steve Nawrocki, Pueblo City Council President.

"I'm not comfortable with it at all," Azad said. "It's the most difficult thing any manager can do."

If approved by voters, 1A would raise the sales tax by half a percent. City Council supports the measure because it would relieve the city of $1.8 million in funding that it provided to six organizations: Colorado State Fair, Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, Nature and Raptor Center, Pueblo Animal Services, Pueblo Zoo, and Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.

Opponents said a tax increase isn't the answer to Pueblo's budget troubles.

"Many of the citizens in Pueblo are elderly, they fall into the poor category, lower-middle class category, and they can't afford all of the new expenses that are happening," said Ted Freeman, a Pueblo resident.

If the majority of voters don't back 1A, Nawrocki said he still plans on giving those six organizations money, but he said it won't be as much as they're used to.

Nawrocki said he would consider tapping into 10 percent of the city's reserves if 1A fails. The city has about $7 million in reserves.

Sponsors of 1A said they're contacting likely supporters, which includes mothers and adults younger than 40.

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