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Public meetings to begin for proposal to redirect tax revenue

Public meetings to begin for proposal to redirect tax funds

PUEBLO, Colo. - The future of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars is in the air. Next week, Pueblo voters will have a chance to tell city council how they want the money spent. But Pueblo's biggest job recruiter isn't endorsing city council's plan.

"Well, our board of directors has come out to say that certainly the money that currently is in the fund should be used for the intended purposes, which is economic development," said Jack Rink, president and CEO of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO). 

In the mid 1980s, Pueblo voters approved a tax that was to be spent strictly on recruiting primary jobs. There's about $40 million in that fund. PEDCO makes recommendations to city council on how it wants the money spent.

But now council wants voters to agree to using half of that money for a number of projects, including road repairs and building a new fire station. 

"Right now our infrastructure is crumbling, we just got a report last week that our parks, our irrigation systems, are about ready to give way," said Councilman Chris Kaufman.

Next week, council will kick off the first of several public meetings to get input from voters. Kaufman said if voters don't approve of the idea, council won't put it on the ballot. 

Kaufman said, "The whole goal is to find out from the community- what do you want us to do?"

The big question, Kaufman said, is are there other ways to spend money that will indirectly bring new jobs to the city? But Rink said while $40 million sounds like a lot, it's not.

"Part of the reason there's 40 million is that between PEDCO and our partners at the city council, we've been very diligent about making sure that we've not made investments that would lose money," Rink said.

The first meeting on redirecting the half-cent sales tax will be held Tuesday, May 20 at East High School at 5:30 p.m.

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