“Shall the City of Colorado Springs benefit from the receipt of federal grants and federal funds to assist the Colorado Springs Airport and the City’s other enterprises compete for those federal funds, by replacing the definition of ‘Enterprise’ in the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, Article VII, Section 7-90, with the same definition of ‘Enterprise’ as found in Colorado Constitution, Article X, Section 20, as amended?”
And “just the facts” from the City of Colorado Springs:
Issue 1D proposes amending the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs to:
- Allow the Colorado Springs Airport and various City enterprises to compete for and receive federal grants and federal funds without impacting the City’s TABOR calculation.;
- Assist the City in providing critical air transportation services to the Colorado Springs community; and
- Replace the definition of ‘enterprise’ in its entirety with the same definition in the Colorado Constitution, as amended, as it currently states: “‘Enterprise’ means a government-owned business authorized to issue its own revenue bonds and receiving under 10% of annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments combined.”
If Issue 1D is passed, the Colorado Springs Airport would be able to accept as many federal grants as they become available including a federal stimulus grants without losing enterprise status and jeopardizing business park growth and development that provides job opportunities.
The City of Colorado Springs is subject to separate versions of TABOR-one defined in the City Charter, another defined in the State Constitution. The two laws have differing definitions for an “enterprise” such as the Colorado Springs Airport. If ballot Issue 1D is passed, the definition of “enterprise” in the City Charter would be amended to match the definition of “enterprise” as set forth in the State Constitution. In all other respects, the version of TABOR as set forth in the City Charter would remain the same.
Under the current City Charter definition, if a City enterprise accepts a federal grant that pushes it over a 25% revenue threshold it loses its enterprise status. This significantly reduces the flexibility of the enterprise to finance projects and otherwise operate as a self-funding business. Passage of Issue 1D would eliminate the 25 percent threshold, giving City enterprises, such as the Colorado Springs Airport, the ability to accept federal grants without losing enterprise status.
There is no need to change the definition of enterprise in the City TABOR to match the State definition because enterprise status can be maintained by limiting federal grant funds to the 25% threshold defined in the current City Charter. While this would reduce the level of grant funding available to the enterprise, the enterprise could continue to operate as a self-funding entity, but on a smaller scale.
Issue 1D is not necessary because the Colorado Springs Airport would continue to develop the business park and provide job opportunities but at a slower pace.
Enterprises are still required to operate as a City-owned business that is self-sustaining and do not have to accept federal grants.
Here’s how your candidates for city council think about Issue 1D
Scott Hente (District 1): “Yes. This will allow our airport to receive federal dollars under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program. It’s passage or failure will not affect local taxes as the funds come from airline tickets, air freight shipping, and aviation fuel purchases that are specifically assessed for air traffic enhancements. Failure of 1D to pass could result in the City not being able to use these funds as they were intended for.”
Dave Gardner (District 3): “Yes. This is really pretty simple. Let’s redefine an enterprise to match the state TABOR definition and give our airport the flexibility to accept more federal funding if it becomes available.”
Tony Carpenter (District 4): “Yes, we can use federal funds with this change. Without this change we
would half to turn away money the city could use for services.”
As of yet, Bernie Herpin (District 4) and Jerry Heimlicher (District 3) have not responded to my emails asking for their views, and Darryl Glen (District 2) said he would not be able to answer questions via email.
If you’re looking for information on Issues 1A, 1B, and 1C, see the Election archive. Hurry and get your ballots in the mail! They need to be received by April 7th in order to be counted. You can also drop off your ballot at the City Clerk’s Office, Colorado Springs Senior Center, Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center, Fire Station 17 and Fire Station 9.