*Note: This essay was published in the Pikes Peak Bulletin print edition on August 29, 2019. It can also be found online here, an image of the column is included below, as well as the text of the essay.

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At 6:52 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27, Manitou Springs took a big step forward. City Councilman Gary Smith motioned to put the Manitou Springs Arts, Culture, and Heritage (MACH) measure on the Nov. 5 ballot. Seconded by Councilman Jay Rohrer, supported by Mayor Pro Tem/Councilwoman Nancy Fortuin and Mayor Ken Jaray—the City Council endorsed a compromise measure that advances and supports arts, culture, and heritage in Manitou Springs for the next twenty-five years. This City Council decision enables the citizens of Manitou Springs to vote for the MACH in November.

The MACH (pronounced “match”) is based on similar efforts all over the country, most notably in Denver, and it’s designed to support fully one-third of the long-term actions identified in 2017’s Plan Manitou as well as several parts the City’s emerging project plan. (All our most up-to-date work is on our website at ManitouACH.org.)

Here’s the quick version: by simply putting back a tiny part of the City’s sales tax that elapsed last year, paid mostly by non-residents, equivalent to about one penny per latte purchased (or 30 cents for every $100 spent) the people of Manitou cangenerate roughly $300,000 each year over the next twenty-five—enough to care for and sustain our critical social infrastructure needs.

MACH revenues would enable the City to modernize and expand the historic Carnegie building, thereby avoiding crushing repair costs and potential ADA-lawsuits. MACH funds would also go to provide ongoing, sustained support to several targeted non-profits and projects critical to our community, including the Manitou Arts Center, the Manitou Heritage Center, Miramont Castle, and Hiawatha Gardens. By investing in these places and people—those that tell Manitou’s story to the world—we help keep Manitou, Manitou. And finally, the MACH generates funding for an ongoing grant program for arts, culture, and heritage projects that’ll ensure Manitou Springs remains the font of creativity it’s always been.

That’s why 360 registered Manitou voters (and 426 total signers) chose to support the MACH when we circulated a draft ballot measure over the summer. That’s why a crowd of passionate supporters crammed into a standing-room-only Manitou Springs City Hall on Tuesday night to show they wanted to see the MACH made real. That’s why a local artist painted a scene next to our (hopefully soon-to-be remodeled) historic Carnegie library building.

Because the MACH is how we keep Manitou, Manitou—and that’s why we’ll need your vote on November 5th.

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