It’s nice when the City of Colorado Springs provides specific examples to demonstrate why we oppose ballot question 2A. We wrote an op-ed about our opposition. Through 2A, Mayor Suthers is asking your permission to keep $1.9 million of your overpaid tax money. We say the City simply doesn’t need it.
Here’s a great example.
Last month, during a Colorado Springs City Council budget presentation, a discussion about Amazon sales taxes made our ears perk up. As of September 1, 2020, the City of Colorado Springs is now collecting city sales taxes on your Amazon purchases.
Remember when the City aggressively pursued Amazon to open a new distribution facility near the airport in a secret deal? The City kept taxpayers in the dark for months before the buyer was revealed. Also, the distribution center is being built on land previously owned by you —the taxpayers. Later, we’ll dig into whether or not taxpayers got fair market value.
We all can agree that 1,000 new jobs at a new large distribution center is a great thing for area residents, but there was a lack of transparency for what that would mean. A new distribution center gives Amazon a physical presence in Colorado Springs. That makes it much easier for the City of Colorado Springs to insist that they comply with city ordinances and collect local sales taxes.
So that’s the downside to Amazon shoppers that live in the city limits.
So, of course we filed a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to find out what was going on, and over the next week, we’re going to share multiple emails we obtained. We see evidence that the City has plenty of money, and doesn’t need any more through 2A.
This first email is from Colorado Springs Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Charae McDaniel to other staff members. Her projections indicate that you and your neighbors will pay $5.5 million in 2021 city sales taxes on Amazon purchases. What about this year? Since collection of the new sales tax started in September 2020, you are projected to pay over $2 million in sales taxes to the City of Colorado Springs for the remainder of 2020. What an unexpected windfall for the city, while they ask to keep another $1.9 million of your tax over-payments through 2A.
Here is the email from CFO McDaniel regarding Amazon Prime day. Her excitement is clear.
From: McDaniel, Charae <Charae.McDaniel@coloradosprings.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 1:52 PM
To: George, Kerry <Kerry.George@coloradosprings.gov>; Jackson, Kristi<Kristi.Jackson@coloradosprings.gov>; Wheeler, Chris F. <Chris.Wheeler@coloradosprings.gov>;McCall, Ron K <Ron.McCall@coloradosprings.gov>
Just saw this article stating that Amazon, which usually has its Prime Day in July, has pushed it to later in the year – still don’t know when, but could be in July.
Our timing on implementing the marketplace vendor and getting on SUTS [Sales and Use Taxes] could not have been better!! Show me the money!!! $$$$$
Chief Financial Officer
City of Colorado Springs
From: Jackson, Kristi <Kristi.Jackson@coloradosprings.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 8:39 PM
To: George, Kerry <Kerry.George@coloradosprings.gov>; McDaniel, Charae<Charae.McDaniel@coloradosprings.gov>; Wheeler, Chris F. <Chris.Wheeler@coloradosprings.gov>;McCall, Ron K <Ron.McCall@coloradosprings.gov>
Subject: RE: cha-ching!
Hallelujah!!! Thank you Amazon! This is fantastic news ?
Sales Tax Manager
City of Colorado Springs
Forgive us for being offended by government officials feeling so gleeful at getting more money from our wallets, but these individuals have clearly forgotten what it should mean to be a public servant. If this bothers you like it bothers us, let the Mayor know your sentiments. Ms. McDaniel works for him.
We found out even more in our CORA request. Stay tuned this week for more similar discussions.
Holding elected officials and public servants accountable to the taxpayers is vital. What would local government be getting away with if SpringsTaxpayers.com wasn’t asking the tough questions? We need your support to continue this work. Click to help us pay for more of these types of CORA requests.
Without accountability, and without taxpayers saying “no more,” the government beast only gets more massive and increasingly hungry. Fiscal responsibility and transparency from our local government is a reasonable expectation. We’ll continue to advocate for you.
Don’t forget to vote NO on ballot question 2A. Let’s put local government on a diet!