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Revisiting Incorporation

It’s not unusual these days to hear local folks around town discussing incorporating Falcon. The NFH looked at the issue in the March 2004 article, Crafting a City. Since then, a small group of Falcon citizens has been investigating the process of incorporation and its viability for Falcon. This month, the NFH is covering the definitions (provided by Colorado Municipal League) of incorporation and a few of the pros and cons.Once residents vote to incorporate as a city or town, it becomes a municipality. Colorado has four classes of municipalities, two that could apply to Falcon:Home Rule Municipalities

  • Have chosen to adopt a home rule charter based on the principle that citizens should have the right to decide how their local government should be organized and local problems resolved
  • Have there own form of government set forth in the charter
  • May call themselves a city or a town
  • Have considerable protection from state interference in their affairs (except where the courts determine otherwise)
Statutory Cities
  • Usually over 2,000 in population
  • Have a mayor-council form of government in which the mayor is elected by popular vote, with legislative power held by the board of trustees
Statutory towns and cities are under greater legal control of the state Legislature. They look to state law to determine their legal authority and limitations. Nevertheless, state laws have traditionally given statutory cities and towns considerable authority to make decisions on local issues.There are two forms of municipal government in Colorado.Mayor-Council structure
  • The mayor is the ceremonial head of the government and presides over council or board of trustees meetings
  • The council or board of trustees sets policy
  • Depending on local charter, applicable statute, or local practice, broad or limited administrative authority is vested with the mayor or members of the council or board of trustees or with an administrator or designated department heads appointed by the mayor or council or board of trustees
Council-Manager structure
  • The mayor is the ceremonial head of government and presides over council meetings
  • The council sets policy and hires and fires the manager
  • The city manager normally has broad administrative authority
While services provided by a municipality vary, typical services include:
  • Public Safety – police, fire, and sometime ambulance service
  • Utilities – water, sewer, trash collection, electric power, and natural gas
  • Land Use – planning, zoning, code enforcement
  • Transportation – street construction and maintenance, traffic safety, and sometimes public transit
  • Recreation/Cultural – parks, recreation, libraries, and other cultural facilities
  • Legal – ordinances protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of community
Careful consideration must be given to both the pros and cons of incorporation. The most common arguments in favor of incorporating Falcon include:
  1. Fear of annexation by the city of Colorado Springs. Many residents feel that if this happens, local tax money will go to fund city projects rather than aiding Falcon
  2. Falcon could plan for its future growth by zoning and controlled land use.
  3. Improved services such as water, sewer, and electrical power
  4. Improved roads and snow removal
  5. Improved fire, police and other public safety services
  6. Community additions such as parks and recreation
  7. An identity unto itself
Arguments against Incorporating Falcon include:
  1. It’s an unnecessary and costly duplication of services already provided by El Paso County
  2. The city of Colorado Springs has no interest in annexing Falcon
  3. Falcon is a rural area where people have chosen to live to avoid “city government” and all that it involves
  4. Increased taxes
The tax issue is the most common reason residents cite for being against incorporation. There are several methods in which municipalities in Colorado levy taxes to finance municipal service. The most common: (from the Colorado Municipal League)
  • Sales tax – levied on retail sales of tangible personal property and some services
  • Use tax – levied on the retail purchase price of tangible personal property and some services purchased outside the municipality, but stored used or consumed within the municipality
  • Property tax – levied on the valuation of taxable property located within the municipality
  • Occupation tax or business license fee – levied at a standard rate for all or specified businesses and professions
  • Liquor and beer occupation tax – special occupation tax levied on retail liquor and beer establishments
  • Utility occupation tax and/or franchise fee – levied on non-municipality owned utilities (telecommunications, electric, gas, cable TV)
Municipalities also receive significant revenues from various federal and state grant and allocation programs. The methods of finance listed above do not mean that an incorporated Falcon would use any or all of them.The issue of incorporation is not new to Falcon. However, the interest and intensity is growing along with the population. There are groups forming in favor of and against incorporating Falcon. Eventually, the choice may reach the ballot box, where citizens will decide. Meanwhile, the NFH will continue to update the community concerning the issues around incorporation.Your thoughts are welcome as well. E-mail

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