Mayor Mobolade Spreads Misinformation About TABOR Refunds for Renters

In August, Colorado Springs City Council approved placing a $4.75 million TABOR retention issue on the November ballot. If approved, the measure will allow the city to keep all the expected money that would otherwise be refunded to citizens. Voters will decide if they want a $21.50 credit toward their Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) electricity account or if they’d rather see the money go toward a new Colorado Springs Police Training Academy.

The $4.75 million TABOR retention issue won’t completely fund the new police academy which is expected to cost taxpayers up to $45 million. Mayor Yemi Mobolade calls the TABOR retention “seed money” but Colorado Springs has not yet announced firm plans for the police academy building.

Over the past few months, Mayor Mobolade has been making the media rounds. Also, he’s held very structured listening sessions in all 6 city council districts.

What’s the problem with the mayor’s media interviews? He’s making inaccurate statements.

We knew something wasn’t right with a KRDO interview with the Mayor on August 23rd.

In the news report, the KRDO reporter shared that he confirmed with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) that most renters and those without a utility account won’t receive a $21.50 credit to their electricity account because the credit typically goes to property owners.

Immediately after we saw the KRDO interview, we reached out to CSU Senior Public Affairs Specialist Steve Berry. He reported there is no way to differentiate if a utility account holder is a renter or a property owner. An account is an account. A TABOR refund will be received if a customer has a registered electric account directly with CSU.

Mobolade later appeared for an August 28th interview with the Colorado Springs Indy.

Here is the portion of the Colorado Springs Indy interview transcript:

Indy Reporter: and I think the refund came to about $20 per taxpayer

Mayor: $21

Indy Reporter: $21

Mayor: And it’s a refund on your utility account- if you have a utility account. So, not every household actually is going to see the impact of that $21

Indy Reporter: and if you live in an apartment, it’s the apartment owner and not the person paying the…

Mayor: Not the person. Right. Exactly.

Indy Reporter: So, each individual person in an apartment complex wouldn’t see that.

We randomly contacted 26 apartment complexes in Colorado Springs. We asked each apartment complex about how electricity is set up and if renters are required to have individual utilities accounts with CSU. We received 11 replies. All but one apartment complex requires renters to set up individual electricity accounts with CSU. Only 1 complex which was affiliated with Fort Carson Army Post did not.

  • Village at New South End
  • Camelback Pointe
  • The Park at Whispering Pines
  • Woodland Hills Apartments
  • Springs at Allison Valley
  • Whispering Hills
  • Flats at Pinecliff
  • Falcon View
  • Crowne at Briargate
  • Residences at Falcon North   

If a renter pays electricity costs directly to a landlord instead of to CSU, the renter won’t receive the $21.50 TABOR retention issue credit. Based on our research, this only applies to a small percentage of renters.

We contacted City of Colorado Springs Chief Communications Officer Vanessa Zink via email and pointed out the inaccuracies of Mayor Mobolade’s public statements. We included KRDO reporter Quinn Ritzdorf in the emails. We asked for comment regarding the mayor’s inaccurate claims about renters and her response was to suggest the KRDO reporter modify his already published report about renters impacted by the TABOR retention issue.

To be clear, we don’t want Ms. Zink to ask reporters to correct articles days after the stories were published. It’s old news at that point. Voters deserve accurate information the first time around. KRDO did not correct the article as requested by Ms. Zink.

We’ve yet to see a retraction from the mayor’s office. Why aren’t they reaching out to the media to clear up the inaccuracies? There are households struggling to keep the lights on and pay for groceries. Many people and households need the $21.50 electric bill credit.

Mayor Mobolade has been silent about the matter. Maybe because letting the inaccuracies stand will help him get more votes for the police academy? Reach out and ask him to publicly retract his statements to the media and clear up the matter. He’s a public servant who should be providing accurate information to voters.

Mayor Yemi Mobolade                  yemi.mobolade@coloradosprings.gov

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