|Voters again nix convention center expansion
By JEFF TUCKER
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Pueblo City voters once again rejected a request to expand the Pueblo Convention Center.
With 89 percent of the city vote counted, the 55 percent to 44 percent defeat marks the third time Pueblo voters rejected a request to extend the use of the sales tax vendor's fee to pay for the expansion.
Opponents of the issue said the defeat makes it clear that the voters are not interested in extending the public debt to build an expansion that has yet to be justified by the Urban Renewal Authority of Pueblo.
Supporters are left today to wonder what happened and suggested that this year's defeat may have been the result of a struggling economy. That was echoed by the leaders of the opposition.
"I think that the citizens have spoken," said Alvin Rivera, who along with Ted Freeman chaired the group opposed to the expansion. "They do not want any more debt or taxes, especially in this economy."
The vendor's fee is not an additional tax, but a portion of the total sales tax collected in the city. The vendor's fee usually is refunded to local businesses for collecting the tax, but it has been used since 1994 to pay for the existing center.
Dennis Flores suggested that there may have been a fundamental lack of understanding about the vendor's fee, but also noted that the ballot was exceedingly long and people may be leery of such measures in this economy.
"People are pulling back and are very concerned about lots of things including personal well-being, so I'm not so sure we're not a microcosm of that too," Flores said.
The convention center represented the tightest city race on the ballot. The three other questions were passed with even greater disparity....