With the passage of ballot initiative 5A in November of 2016, Pueblo West voters agreed to permit a portion of tax revenue to fund an indoor aquatic facility. Since the passage of 5A, Metro District staff have been busy working to make the aquatic facility a reality.

Since the election, we have spoken to Pueblo County and received their support for the new facility. A new aquatic facility benefits the entire region, not just Pueblo West. In fall of 2008, Pueblo West Parks and Recreation Department worked with the architectural firm, Barker Rinker Seacat to develop a design for a community center that had an aquatic component. This design will be the basis for the new aquatic center. In February, staff and board members toured the new Woodland Park aquatic facility that is currently under construction and slated to open October 2017. We met with the general contractor and Woodland Park city staff to hear their perspective on their community engagement process for the project, financing options, and their design and build process. In May, staff and members of the board will tour the Montrose aquatic facility and meet with Montrose city staff to get their perspective on the design, community engagement, and financing or funding of their project.

Initiative 5A called for a TABOR time-out, allowing for tax revenue to be used by Pueblo West Metro District to help fund a new aquatic facility to replace the aging community swimming pool. On April 15, the Colorado State Legislature will approve lowering the residential assessment rate (RAR), directly affecting the amount of tax revenue Pueblo West can collect for the project. The RAR is a rate used to calculate property tax. Since 2003, the RAR has been 7.96%. This number is multiplied by the assessed value of a property. The result is then multiplied by the mil rate, and that result is the amount of property tax levied on a residential property.

Colorado’s improved economic climate triggered a mechanism within the Gallagher Amendment that this past April prompted the Colorado State Legislature to lower the RAR from 7.96% to 7.2% beginning in 2018. This will effectively negate any TABOR timeout revenues that would have been gained for the project for at least 5-6 years, forcing Metro staff to think outside of the box in terms of funding the project and completing the project in the next 10 years. This legislative change will not only impact funding for the proposed pool, but it will also impact the delivery of general fund services related to Streets and Roads and Fire & EMS.

“We are exploring all federal, state, and local funding options, and continue to move forward with this project,” said District Manager, Darrin Tangeman. “Originally planned as a three to five year project, Metro staff have been hard at work identifying innovative ways to keep the project moving forward despite the potential setback from the residential assessment rate change (RAR).” This fall the Metro District will be forming a citizen advisory committee and will host community meetings to engage residents on what they want this project to look like. This will also be a topic of discussion at the inaugural Citizen’s Academy that launches on September 13. Parks and Recreation Director, Carol Cosby noted that the Pueblo West staff have met with Pueblo County School District 70 about utilizing the facility for high school swim meets, and are planning to meet with area hospitals and medical facilities about utilizing the facility for water rehabilitation and physical therapy. “The potential for this facility to touch and enrich every demographic in our community is great, and we are working diligently to move the project forward as quickly as possible,” Carol said.

To be a part of the Citizen’s Academy or the citizen advisory committee, please email Jay-Michael Baker at jbaker@pwmd-co.us.

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