Letter to the Editor: Not supporting TOPS this time

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Editor’s Note: Letters to the Editor have not been edited nor fact-checked.

Dear Editor,

Normally I am a big supporter of our Trails and Open Space (TOPS) and have voted for it in the past.  However, I do not support Ballot Issue I that will be voted on April 4th.  This will tax us for 20 years and must be worded clearly and correctly.  One item that disturbs me is the second line of the initial paragraph of the ballot issue.  It is vague and misleading.  It tells me that “…75% of funds be spend on acquisition of open space”.  That sounds great except that it also says “…no changes to the program except allowing funds dedicated to maintenance of trails and open spaces to be used regardless of how trail or open space was acquired.”  How will trails or open space be acquired and what kind are spaces are we talking about?  That is not clearly explained.  Other sources, like Integrity Matters state that “…only 40.9% of the total tax actually goes towards Open Space acquisition for the next 20 years” not the 75% implied by the referred measure.  Again, to quote Integrity Matters, “In reality, only 40.9 cents of every dollar will be allocated to open space acquisition, assuming those parameters even hold.” According to Integrity Matters, “We believe the very limited Open Space dollars will be immediately funned [sic] to develop the Pike View Quarry Bike Park — Taxpayer Money Pit and will destroy our Trails & Open Space Program.”  If Integrity Matters is correct, this ballot measure does not raise your taxes, but it appears to misuse TOPs monies and misinform the voter.  According to Integrity Matters, “This will not be a Charter Change; so, the parameters are subject to change via administrative action and City Council.  In other words, these appropriations can be immediately changed to put all the money in maintenance which is the fear.“

I cannot vote for a Ballot issue that appears inaccurate or misleading.

Integrity Matters web page can be found here:  https://www.integritymatterscos.org/tops-tax.

Neil L. Talbott

Colorado Springs

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