Local News

Public safety tax question will be on November ballot

Firefighters, police submit signatures for ballot question

PUEBLO, Colo. - The Pueblo City Clerk says a group that backs a half cent sales tax increase for the police and fire departments has collected enough signatures to get the question on the November ballot.

The signatures were validated on July 23, 2014.

Pueblo police and firefighters submitted more than 3,000 signatures at the beginning of the month.

The proposed half-cent tax increase would be spent on purchasing equipment for both departments, in addition to hiring personnel.

Fire and police union members, along with volunteers, spent a week gathering signatures. Puebloans United for Public Safety, the group leading the effort, needs more than 2,200 voter signatures. Members submitted 3,153 signatures to the city clerk's office on July 7.

"I think the statement is with turning them in today we are turning them in ahead of schedule, that there has been enough city support for this initiative," said firefighter Ryan Moran. "That enough of the community feels this is important, that we need to begin paying for infrastructure for public safety."

The tax is expected to generate about $7 million a year and would expire after five years. A nine-member oversight committee would monitor how the money is spent. The committee would consist of three firefighters, three police officers and three city residents appointed by city council.

Several council members have voiced concerns over the ballot language because it would link the police and fire departments' budgets to annual sales tax revenue. The ballot question states, in part, "the budgets for the fire and police departments shall increase annually by a minimum of the percentage increase in the City's sales tax revenue or decrease annually by a maximum of the percentage decrease in the City's sales tax revenue."

Council has not given its endorsement of the ballot question.

Pueblo firefighter Damian Pritts told KRDO NewsChannel 13 he does not believe council's lack of support for the initiative will hurt the campaign.

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