The Teller County commissioners gave a mixture of good and bad news regarding state political developments.
Similar to previous comments, Ignatius didn’t hesitate in criticizing a decision of the new state gaming commission to abide by the wishes of Governor John HIckenlooper and to raise the annual taxes assessed against casino winnings. This tax hike, which amounted to a five percent increase, overturned a previous verdict made by the former commission, who were promptly fired by the governor last July. Ignatius, who serves on the state gaming impact advisory committee, noted that the actions of the former commissioners to slightly lower taxes was done after detailed evidence was presented, demonstrating the dire straits financial condition of the gaming industry since 2008. And although they got fired for making this decision, Ignatius stressed that the tax relief plan was a success. “It worked,” said Ignatius. He said the industry collectively is now in the black and has experienced one of its first increases in coin-in revenue, which amounts to the volume of bets wagered at Colorado casinos. But by raising the taxes, he questions if this trend will continue. “It is six million dollars that could be going into the local economy,” said the commission chairman in explaining the impact of the tax hike. He noted that the previous tax reduction allowed the casinos to do more marketing and hire more employees. On the upside, the commissioners announced much better news on the transportation front.
They said major highway projects that could help Teller County are getting more funding attention. One of these includes a new $130 million-plus I-25 enhancement plan, which will make it much easier for motorists to travel between Teller and Colorado Springs.