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Pueblo voters won't decide this year on changing half-cent sales tax

Voters won't decide on changing half-cent sales tax in 2014

PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo City Council will not ask voters in November if they want to change how the half-cent sales tax is spent.

Councilman Chris Kaufman made the announcement at the start of Thursday's town hall in front of about 100 people at Parkhill Baptist Church.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked Councilwoman Ami Nawrocki if the decision was made after council received an earful from voters at last week's town hall, urging them not to touch the money.

"That didn't play into it at all," Nawrocki said. "We just genuinely want to be able to provide enough information to the voters to make an educated decision."

Alvin Rivera supports City Council's efforts to change how the half-cent money is spent but was bothered by the decision not to put the question on the ballot this year.

"It seems to me you're back tracking now and what that suggest to me is a question about credibility of our city government," Rivera told council.

It was clear at Thursday's town hall that voters want more information on what the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO) is doing to bring in new businesses.

"I don't know what model PEDCO is using for economic development. It's not a current model," said a Pueblo resident.

"PEDCO is broken. It's got to be fixed," said another speaker.

Still, PEDCO supporters once again turned out to be the majority at the the town hall. They reminded council members they do not them touching the $40 million set aside for economic development.

"Forty million dollars is not a lot of money when it comes to economic development. Plain and simple," said former councilman Larry Atencio.

"My encouragement to the council is to leave the money alone," said a Pueblo business owner.

Last month, council announced it wanted to draft a ballot question that would allow the city to use half of the money collected through the half-cent sales tax and spend it on city improvement projects. There's about $40 million in the fund. It's earmarked for job creation.

Council plans to hold two more town halls. The next one is scheduled for June 11 at the George Williams Pavillion in City Park at 5:30 p.m.

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