Expect anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce to butt heads with City Council members tomorrow over a proposed ordinance crafted by the City Attorney’s Office to implement ballot initiative 300, which Bruce authored and voters approved in the Nov. 3 election.
“They’re planning to steal the election this Tuesday,” Bruce said last week.
“It’s a new low for the City Council. I didn’t think that they could think any lower,” he added.
Tomorrow’s council meeting starts at 1 p.m. But the possible fireworks between Bruce and council members won’t happen until later because the proposed ordinance is the last item on a long agenda. The meeting is on the third floor at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.
The initiative approved by voters calls for “all enterprise payments to the city” to be phased out over eight years or less “with all yearly savings passed on as reductions to each customer bill in dollar amounts as equal as possible.” It also prohibits “all loans, gifts and subsidies between an enterprise and the city or another enterprise.”
In a report to council members, City Attorney Patricia Kelly said it would be easy to comply with the requirements of initiative 300 “in the case of private business entities.”
But compliance is difficult for the city government and its enterprises “because there is only one legal entity recognized by the city charter and state law: the city,” Kelly said.
“Because the city and its enterprises are recognized as one legal entity by law, actions undertaken by an enterprise are considered by to be undertaken by the city,” she said.
Under the proposed ordinance, the city would be allowed to collect payments from the enterprises for services rendered, including the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes from Colorado Springs Utilities.
“For example, if the city had a piece of heavy equipment with a fair market value of $25,000, the city could ‘sell’ the equipment to an enterprise for $25,000 cash,” Kelly said. “Likewise, Colorado Springs Utilities provides utility services to the city in exchange for cash…So long as value is exchanged for value between an enterprise and the city, there is no violation of issue 300.”
Bruce vehemently disagrees.
“They’re trying to redefine issue 300 into oblivion,” he said.
Bruce called the proposed ordinance the “worst piece of legislation” he’s seen in 35 years.
“Page for page, word for word, this is the most atrocious example of governmental outright moral and legal corruption I have ever seen,” he said.
Bruce also is asserting that the council “is planning to slip this by in one hearing, not the usual two,” because the council is expected to take formal action Tuesday. However, the council has discussed the proposal once before, during its Dec. 21 informal meeting.
Bruce’s assertions are somewhat misleading because Bruce was aware of the first meeting.
City officials “are trying to give the people of Colorado Springs a Christmas present, which is a brightly wrapped package of cow dung,” he said before the Dec. 21 meeting.
“This will undo the plain meaning of issue 300,” he said back then.