Frequently Asked Questions
The last park master plan identified community priorities:
- “Taking care of what we have” – more dollars for trail and park maintenance.
- 15 neighborhood and community parks were promised to residents and
waiting to be built.
- Candidate Open Space was identified on the north, east, south and west
side of COS. When those acres go up for sale, TOPS will have the ability to
- The TOPS increase will provide funding to help complete the Chamberlain
Trail, Sand Creek Trail, Rock Island Trail, Cottonwood Creek Trail and Legacy
Loop and improve miles of crumbling asphalt trail identified in the Jacob’s
Study. (The 2020 Jacob’s Study inventoried park infrastructure, trails, playgrounds,
restrooms, etc., gave each asset a rating (excellent to poor) and quantified the cost
to improve the assets.)
The ballot language is very similar. This TOPS will provide more flexibility and allow TOPS funds to be used for all city parks, trails and open spaces. TOPS was changed back in 2013 to broaden the parks category. This does the same. The percentages have been changed to reflect current and anticipated needs: 5% for administration (now 3%), 25% for maintenance (now 6%). The remaining funds will be divided: 40% -parks (now 20%), 30% – trails (now 20%) and 30% open space (now 60%.)
Our TOPS tax was passed in 1997. We pay one penny on every $10 spent in Colorado Springs. It has not increased in 24 years and is the lowest tax of its kind along the Front Range. Costs are higher today than they were in 1997. Preserving land costs more, materials to build trails and parks cost more. The city hired an outside consultant to determine what it would cost to address the backlog of critical capital and maintenance needs. The answer: $270 million! To learn more: https://coloradosprings.gov/sites/default/files/inline-images/colorado_springs_122020_reduced_size.pdf
It’s time for TOPS to increase too.
The November TOPS initiative increases the tax from 0.1% to 0.2% and extends the tax for 20 years.
The average household will pay an additional $1.17 per month. $14 per year.
(Source: Trust for Public Land analysis)
Yes. There is citizen oversight in the form of a TOPS Working Committee and Parks Advisory Board that approves the annual budget. It’s highly unlikely Park Staff would propose all of TOPS be used for maintenance and just as unlikely for the two volunteer boards to support it.
Our parks, trails and open space contribute to our quality of life and bring tourists, new businesses and residents to our community. As we grow we will need more miles of trails, more playgrounds, sports fields, parks and more acres of open space to support our active lifestyle.
150 years ago General William Palmer created this community and contributed
hundreds of acres for parks that became Palmer, Monument Valley, North Cheyenne Canon, Acacia and others. He valued pathways, public green space and trees. It’s now our turn to build on his legacy for the generations who will follow us.