Friday, October 26, 2012

UPDATE: Why is the city hiding good news about stormwater?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Drum roll, please.

The city has finally released a statement on stormwater funding.


The City and Colorado Springs Utilities will spend nearly $28M on Stormwater in 2013

Mayor Steve Bach and City Council President Scott Hente are pleased to announce that the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities will together spend $27,772,356 on Stormwater in 2013, according to their proposed 2013 budgets. The funding represents a combination of capital projects, pre-disaster mitigation, staffing, operations and maintenance. It also includes nearly $7 million in Stormwater expenditures to address Waldo Canyon Fire impacts.

Mayor Bach said, “I am pleased that our staff has been able to find additional resources for the City’s critical stormwater needs, and will be coordinating with Colorado Springs Utilities to ensure their funding is also directed at the most urgent stormwater needs.”

“I applaud the City and Colorado Springs Utilities for their commitment to our community and for providing the necessary funding to address these stormwater deficiencies,” said Scott Hente, president of council and the CSU board.

A summary of the funding follows.

Summary of proposed 2013 City Stormwater expenditures

$ 2,000,000 Capital projects funding.
· Top two priority projects are the Mirage channel near Rampart High School and Cottonwood Creek grade control structures between Academy and Union
$ 2,095,350 One time transfer from Springs Ranch General Improvement District.
· The district was dissolved in 1992. The funds collected are proposed to be used for two detention ponds north of Woodmen Road
· In November we will bring a supplemental appropriation before City Council for their approval with the two detention ponds as the proposed use
$ 3,000,000 pre-disaster mitigation grant (75 percent) $1,000,000 match (25 percent) for the Greencrest Channel. Project will stabilize the Greencrest channel in order to facilitate the PPRTA Austin Bluffs widening project west of Academy Boulevard.
$ 3,000,000 pre-disaster mitigation grant (75 percent) $1,000,000 match (25 percent) for Cottonwood Creek at Vincent Drive. Project will stabilize Cottonwood Creek, thereby protecting PPRTA’s Vincent Drive Bridge upgrade.
$ 509,500 Street Division operations and maintenance.
$ 980,000 salaries and benefits for Public Works/City Engineering Stormwater staff.
$ 592,315 for Public Works/City Engineering stormwater operations, which include expenses related to the City’s MS4 permit (education supplies, USGS stream flow and rainfall monitoring, mapping, etc.).
———————————————————
$14,177,165 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures.

The City has received a number of grants related to the Waldo fire, which are Stormwater related

$ 461,547 NRCS EWP* grant for Navigators (75 percent) $153,849 match (25 percent).
$ 75,000 NRCS EWP* grant for Flying W (75 percent) $25,000 match (25 percent).
$ 30,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (debris racks south Douglas Creek).
$ 25,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (spillway at Autism Pond).
$ 24,795 Colorado Post - Wildfire Flooding Early Warning Grant (Camp Creek).
———————————————————
$ 795,191 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures due to Waldo impacts.
———————————————————

$14,972,356 Total of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures including stormwater mitigation due to Waldo Canyon fire.


Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) proposed 2013 budget items related to Stormwater Management

$ 6,200,000 Storm Runoff Mitigation for Fire Impacts.
$ 2,700,000 Protecting Utilities Infrastructure
$ 2,400,000 Fountain Creek Channel Realignment
$ 1,500,000 Proactive Watershed Management
———————————————————
$12,800,000 Total CSU budget related to Stormwater


$27,772,356 Total City Contributions to Stormwater Funding 2013

——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 4:06 P.M. ——-

1345581186-imag1091.jpeg
Generally speaking, when elected officials do something right, they make a big deal out of it.

So it's puzzling that Mayor Steve Bach and city administration have lately gone out of their way to hide what appears to be very good news: After years of spending the bare minimum on stormwater, the city will spend as much as $14 million next year. Considering that the city has an overstressed stormwater system, and a souring relationship with Pueblo (the unhappy recipient of that stormwater), one might expect Bach to trumpet the news right away.

The opposite has happened. Two weeks ago, the Indy asked the city to clarify what its total stormwater funding is, because the item is not listed in the 2013 budget. The city was slow to respond. When representatives finally did get back in touch, they claimed that they didn't know what the funding was. They promised to get back with "an estimate," but never did.

In fact, the city still hasn't called the Indy to answer that question — which would seem to be about as simple as they come.

However, in last night's mayoral town hall, Chief of Staff Laura Neumann revealed that the city does know how much it's spending on stormwater, saying:

It is correct that there is an additional $2 million dollars that’s going into capital projects for stormwater. However when you total what we are investing in stormwater operationally by staffing, which is about $1.9 million dollars, in addition to some [Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority] funding ... and some grants, the total that the city of Colorado Springs is going to invest in stormwater in 2013 is actually closer to $14 million dollars.

And we will be doing a press release, hopefully by the end of this week, a joint press release with Colorado Springs Utilities stating what we, together, will be investing. And that number, you can expect, is going to be in the neighborhood of $25 to $28 million dollars, and we’re very excited about that.

It’s not as much as we’d like — some of you know we have a half a billion worth of projects that we need to address — but it's a great start.

No word yet on why the city has been hiding this good news from the press, the public and Pueblo — especially since Pueblo officials have been growing increasingly frustrated with the stormwater situation. But, as of late, it certainly seems like city officials have done little to ease the minds of those in the Utilities world, allowing their silence on key issues to fuel further controversy around the city asset.

All that turmoil comes at a time when the mayor has repeatedly questioned whether City Council should be the governing body of Utilities, and whether Utilities should even remain city-owned.

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