Letter to Local Voters

Dear Voter,

They're at it again! Do you remember the “rain tax” Colorado Springs City Hall illegally imposed on our property from 2007-2009? It took $15 million per year from our family and business budgets. The politicians lied, said it was a “fee,” and we could not vote on it. They imposed that tax on our buildings, driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks.

Issue 300 in 2009, put on the ballot by citizen petition, repealed that tax. City Hall kept collecting that charge for six weeks after its instant repeal, and violated issue 300 in many other ways. They still owe us tens of millions of dollars in illegal collections and refunds from phony enterprises. They put liens on our county property TAX bills to collect what they still claim was never a property tax! Don't trust swindlers. Politicians lie for money; big surprise.

What did City Hall do with its illegal tax? It bought dozens of shiny new trucks and hired a legion of overpaid bureaucrats. It overpaid people to answer phones (one or two calls a day!) A small fraction of the budget actually went to cleaning drainage channels. What happened to those shiny new trucks? They were given to the City general fund, along with $15 million in other storm water enterprise assets, in express violation of voter-approved issue 300's ban on gifts by enterprises to the City.

After we repealed that boondoggle, they have been scheming for five years to cheat you again. They hope you have forgotten the unfairness and illegality of their past scheme.

This time, they want $40 million yearly, 2.6 times the amount we rejected in 2009!

If this really is just a “fee,” as they claim, not a tax that requires voter approval, WHY are they putting it on the ballot? If it is a tax, which it is, WHY are they violating the state constitution and their oath of office to obey the  requirements for tax increases under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR)? Those requirements include truthful ballot wording, factual financial data, and balanced election notice comments mailed to all voter households. What are they afraid of?

They try to justify this massive swindle by scaring you with threats of death by flooding.  They spent $100,000 of public money this August to “educate” you that floods are bad. That was truly just to hypnotize you to support $40 million yearly in higher taxes. Did you receive their slick postcards (mailed to women only), hear their radio ads, or see their TV ads? It is illegal to use public money to tell us how to vote; they did it anyway.

The city, county, and Utilities also each spent $75,000 of public money to fund a pro-tax group to push this tax hike. That is also illegal. Will you reward them for that theft?

Tax pushers admit $14 million yearly is needed just for routine maintenance, not permanent new construction. The yearly money left for their inflated $700+ million backlog is "only" $22 million (of their $40 million tax, the 55% promised for construction is $22 million, and they also promise that amount will expire). $22 million is under 3% of the alleged backlog, and inflation alone will increase the backlog cost 5+% per year. At that rate, the backlog will never shrink, but only grow. This vote is not a solution, only a foot in the door to raise the rain tax again and again.

Their scheme does not prevent diverting EXISTING storm water spending to other programs. This $40 million is not guaranteed to be additional spending; it could merely replace funds diverted to other spending. Even if the ballot issue had that language, it cannot be enforced. The 2004 RTA tax for roads and transit had such language and it was immediately violated. City transit spending went from about $6 million before the tax to just over $2 million after the tax. Politicians say anything to voters to win; that's why the phrase "political promise" means "lie."

Everyone knows the city has a drainage project backlog. For decades, local politicians intentionally refused to fix our storm water system. Why? They want to create a crisis to justify a tax increase. They rejected proper budget priorities. Public works infrastructure is more important than their welfare handouts and insider giveaways, but they gave $50 million to the Olympics headquarters downtown. They want to spend $250 million on their “City for Champions” tourist traps without voter approval. They refuse to spend a constant 5% of their $400 million city revenue every year on drainage issues created by past city approval of unlimited annexations of raw land and sprawling subdivisions. They refused to make developers pay a proper fee to prevent the drainage problems those developers and builders created. They tolerated shoddy roads, bad planning, and cheap infrastructure in these subdivisions. Why? Politicians get campaign donations from those people. It's easier to ignore the problem, manipulate public opinion, and stick taxpayers with deferred, backlogged repair costs.

In August, the weekly Independent did a cover story about one house built at the bottom of a hill. It gets damaged by a waterfall in heavy rains. The City Planning Department wrongly approved its construction without adequate drainage diversion. Is that bad decision a reason to make everyone in the county pay $40 million yearly in higher taxes, money which would be spent with approval of those incompetent bureaucrats? No, it's a reason to fire those so-called planners.

Instead, government bureaucrats get paid six-figure salaries and fat pensions. The new city attorney just got a raise to $192,000, twice what the mayor makes and more than double what Colorado's governor makes. We pay 249 Utilities employees over $100,000 each plus pensions and benefits; their total cost exceeds this tax! Many City Hall bureaucrats make above $100,000. All employees got big pay raises this spring so they would vote for the incumbents at election time.

This ballot issue is NOT the answer. Don't be bullied into voting for a $40 million yearly tax increase. We don't need more taxes; we need less waste. Every problem they create is used to justify another tax increase they claim will fix the problem they created! Their repair estimate (backlog) TRIPLED in recent years; their figures are all bogus.

The head tax pusher, a banker with many accounts from developers and builders, says up to $54 million per year is needed, so $40 million is just their foot in the door; they will take more as soon as possible. This tax won't solve the problem they inflated.

They claim the backlog is over $700 million, not counting future needs. The $40 million tax is not adjusted for inflation, so every year it buys less. Meanwhile, if construction costs on the $700+ million rise 5% per year, that raises the real repair cost $35+ million per year, compounded annually. If they beat inflation by only $5 million ($40M-$35M) the first year, and less every later year, this tax won't ever fix their current (phony) backlog! Their backlog and tax figures are faked solely to get votes. Their scheme: 1) Pick a huge and scary backlog number; 2) Increase it $100M per year, more than the tax collects; 3) Pick the highest tax you think you can con voters to pass, though it still won't solve the problem; and 4) threaten voters they must vote for the tax, or their family will be washed away in a flood. Nice guys, eh?

The tax will be added to future construction. Even if new construction already paid drainage solution fees, it will be double taxed. People living in areas that already tax for drainage work will be double taxed, too. They insist you trust their billing calculations. If you don't pay the amount on your property TAX bill, they will take away your home.  If you resist that seizure and defend your home, they can kill you. Nice guys, eh?

County voters will pay millions of dollars in yearly subsidies to fix city neglect; that is unfair. Tenants pay nothing directly, but can vote to raise taxes of property owners; that is unfair. Property owners will pay higher taxes even if they can't vote; that is unfair. Your church, nonprofit, school, and military bases will pay higher taxes even though the state constitution exempts them from paying property taxes. That is unfair AND illegal. Add that to rising utility costs military bases now pay here, and we are sending the wrong signal about our desire to keep and strengthen military installations here.

Our fragile local economy cannot afford another $40 million yearly in taxes. That will reduce your consumer spending and hurt local business sales. Business cannot expand and create jobs while their revenues shrink and their expenses rise. New business will not locate here if our taxes and cost of living keep rising. Most are relocating from high tax areas. Let's show them government frugality, not control by tax-and-spend politicians.

With 600,000 people in the tax district, a $40 million tax averages $265 per family of four per year. Some of that tax is hidden because it is paid by businesses (and churches, schools, and nonprofits) and passed on to you in higher prices and rents. The issue is simply this: Do you want your family to pay another $265 yearly in taxes forever?

This issue smells so bad that even Mayor Bach and council members publicly oppose it.  When our leaders can't agree on a plan to raise their revenue, it's surely a very bad plan.

Some areas like Monument already pay targeted drainage taxes and fees. They would be double taxed. That's why Monument refused to participate in this tax scam; see letter here from Monument's Mayor Dominguez.

Mayor Steve Bach described this proposed swindle:

This is a new regional bureaucracy with a new tax. This is not in the best interest of the citizens of Colorado Springs. I cannot and will not support it. We will lose the ability to deal with our own storm water issues, and lock our citizens into a 20-year commitment. You can call it what you want, but it’s increasing taxes — call it what it is."

Mayor Bach also noted $600,000 a year is siphoned off to collect the “fee” on the county property TAX bills. That money does nothing to fix drainage problems. The tax pushers even lie about that, saying overhead costs will be under 1%. Well, that county treasurer collection fee alone is 1.5% by state law, and doesn't cover the salaries and pensions of the new staff. Tax pushers say the $40 million will be collected on property tax bills but is not a property tax!

Mayor Bach also noted in his proclamation (read here) the proposed rain tax on average homes is more than their entire city property tax!  That is equal to DOUBLING your city property tax amount.

The tax pushers don't want to obey state law and provide election notice information. They don't want to be held to their cost estimates. By stubbornly and illegally calling it a fee instead of a property tax, the amount you pay will NOT be deductible on your income tax.

The new board can vote to change the “teaser” list of projects from what it promised us to any other program. It's called “bait and switch.” The mayor pointed out they can raise rates any time and borrow money without limit (deficit spending), both without the voter approval required by the state constitution (TABOR). See his proclamation here.

Unlike the city rain tax, this rain tax is forever. We don't have a legal right to petition this new government or even to recall its board members, who will not be elected by drainage authority voters.

Green Mountain Falls gets one director on the 11-member drainage authority board, though its population is about 600 people, out of 600,000 in the district. That is 9+% of board control for 0.1% of citizens. Manitou Springs has a population of 5,000 (under 1% of the total) but gets 9+% of board control. Fountain has 5% of the district population but gets 9+% of board control. Together, under 6% of the population gets over 27% of board control. What about "one person, one vote" in political districting? The U.S. Supreme Court would reject this unconstitutional scheme automatically under its Baker v. Carr ruling in 1962. Of course, this unelected drainage board also violates the oldest American political principle, "No taxation without representation".

The rain tax won't reduce the inflated backlog. Even worse, it does not change the current rules and slow future additions to the backlog. The backlog will continue to grow; any reduction is a mirage. It's like having a flood enter your house through the front door and offering property owners a teaspoon to reduce it at the back door. That teaspoon will cost us $40 million in yearly higher taxes forever and we can't even shut the front door!

Read the flier. It contains 10 strong reasons to VOTE NO on this issue.

There are many other reasons that won't fit on the flier. Download the flier and print out 100 copies. Give one to everyone you meet. If this scam really makes you angry, call 550-0010 and volunteer four hours at a store exit. We will give you fliers to distribute.

We are all volunteers—ordinary citizens with no hidden agenda. If we lose this rigged election, we will never get another chance. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Will you do your duty and stand for freedom today?

Help fight the Establishment's scheme to impose a $40 million permanent yearly tax increase. Do it for your family and friends. Do it for your church. Do it for the area we love. Do it for freedom, which means limiting government power over your life. The clear choice is Bigger Government, or fiscal discipline and ballot honesty. This tax will not fix drainage; it will only drain your wallet.

Help us help you. Volunteer today at 550-0010 and please VOTE NO this NO-vember.