PUEBLO, Colo. - A series of four town hall meetings concluded Wednesday night regarding uses of the city's half-cent sales tax.
Council President Sandy Daff acknowledged at the start of the town hall that she's listened to residents at previous town hall meetings who have "overwhelmingly said 'heck no'" to changing the use of the half-cent sales tax.
About 40 people attended the final meeting at Zaragoza Hall, a smaller crowded than the previous ones. Many expressed concerns about attracting businesses and residents to move into a city with a low-performing school district and neglected neighborhoods.
"We need a town that's going to attract them, and keep them here so they don't leave the area and live in outside areas but they'll like to stay within the town of Pueblo," said Pueblo resident Marion Knight.
Daff said the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation needs to do a better job of recruiting better-paying businesses to the city. "It just seems to me that paying these outside companies to bring in a job that pays just above the living wage level in our community doesn't bring in the wealth that Pueblo needs to dig itself out of this long-standing economic slump."
PEDCO makes recommendations to council about how the money collected through the city's half-cent sales tax should be spent.
Steve Wright, chairman of the PEDCO Foundation Board, spoke for the first time at Wednesday's town hall. "There's no question that PEDCO and City Council have had their differences lately."
Wright said he's attended all four meetings and is aware of the public's concerns as it relates to job recruitment.
The town halls began last month because some council members wanted to change the way the half-cent sales tax is spent. The money is earmarked for job recruitment but some on council argued half of the money collected would be better spent on infrastructure projects.
After the first town hall wrapped up, council decided not to ask voters in November if they'd like to change the use of the half-cent tax after receiving significant backlash from residents.