Colorado Springs mayor against statewide sales tax increase proposal for roads

Published: Mar. 29, 2017 at 7:11 PM MDT
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A proposed statewide sales tax increase would have a big impact on Colorado Springs. If it passes, taxpayers could pay nearly 9 percent in sales tax.

A bill in the legislature could increase state sales tax and raise about $700 million a year to fund roads projects across the state, including widening I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is against the issue because taxpayers in his city are already paying to fix the roads.

"We who have already dealt with those issues would be really disadvantaged by this large of sales tax increase," Suthers told 11 News reporter Katie Pelton.

"The problem is it raises taxes $700 million a year and only about half of that goes to state highways, and the rest is kind of a Christmas tree that comes back to city and county governments," Suthers said. “That’s why I think it’s a bad deal for Colorado Springs because Colorado Springs passed issue 2C a couple of years ago, and that raised $50 million a year, and we’re addressing our local transportation issues.”

In 2015, Colorado Springs voters passed a 0.62 percent sales tax increase to bring in $50 million a year as part of the 2C funding to fix city roads.

Under this proposal, statewide sales tax would increase by 0.62, but Colorado Springs would only get about $18 million.

"If it was $50 million, I could say to the voters of Colorado Springs, 'OK let's do away with 2C and take the money from the state that they got from raising your taxes 0.62 [percent,]" Suthers said. "But if we're only getting $18 million -- that's a real bad exchange. We're not going to give up 50 to get 18."

If we keep both, our sales tax would jump to 8.87 percent.

"If we put the state sales tax increase on top of our current sales tax we’d be at 8.87 percent -- that’s getting really close to 9 percent, which in my opinion is too high," Suthers said.

For example, if you buy something for $100, you would have to pay nearly $9 in sales tax.

"When you get up close to 9 percent, it's a real detriment. People will say, 'Well, I'll go out into another community or something to buy things,'" he added.

The mayor thinks local governments should handle their own road issues.

“What I think we oughta want from the state is, 'Hey look, we want you to expand I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock. We want you to expand I-25 north of Denver, start dealing with I-70, other state highways, but don’t worry about the local governments. Let the local governments do their own transportation issues,'” said Suthers.

"As much as I want I-25 expanded, it could be done for a lot less money than what's currently in this bill," he said.

We asked drivers how they they feel about it and most tell us they are against it.

"That's like double jeopardy. You're taxing us for it already, but if you do it again on a statewide than you're doubling it," said Ellen Getz.

"The tax is already pretty high," another driver added.

If state lawmakers pass the measure, then it would be up to the voters. It would be on your November ballot.