Mayor Bach’s 10/16/13 Gazette Editorial: There’s a more sensible approach to stormwater
In response to the Sunday, October 13, op-ed “Stormwater discussions moving to the forefront” by Keith King and Dennis Hisey:
City Council President King and County Commission Chair Hisey suggested that a new tax or fee may be necessary for stormwater control. You should count on them telling us later that is the only choice. They will also likely grow the size of government, and force our city to abdicate its authority over our 73 percent share of the region’s needs.
A prior City Council imposed a Stormwater Enterprise fee on city property owners. Subsequently, voters required the city to disband the enterprise and discontinue the fee. Now, just three years later, it looks like the council and County Commissioners want to raise your taxes. We should not make the same mistake twice. We must get stormwater right this time.
Stormwater is just one of the urgent capital improvements needed in Colorado Springs. We must also invest in deteriorating roads and bridges, fire and police infrastructure and parks. The PPRTA (Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority), PSST (Public Safety Sales Tax) and TOPS (Trails and Open Space) sales taxes help, but not enough. Too many city councils have ignored the mounting backlog of all our capital improvement needs. I cannot, and will not, ignore these urgent needs.
The council and the commissioners have hosted the Regional Stormwater Task Force, which estimated the city’s obligation to be a whopping $500 million — later increased to $687 million. In 2009, experts said we had about $88 million in high priority needs. This disconnect led me to call for a second opinion from an outside expert. CH2M Hill, a global engineering firm with extensive stormwater experience was chosen, and reported just last week that our total stormwater backlog is $152 million less than the latest estimate by the task force.
A more sensible approach to solving the stormwater issue is simply this:
• Form a new regional authority with no staff, to include the city, county and other interested municipalities, enabling the participants to coordinate and collaborate sequencing of projects and joint construction, where possible, for cost savings and symmetry.
• The authority will be overseen by an unpaid board of directors representing the participants with proportional voting based on their share of the county’s population.
• Each participant will bring its own funding and spend it in its jurisdiction. Colorado Springs will continue to help others with “in kind” equipment and staff support, and pay our fair share of projects outside our city where we have some joint responsibility.
• The city’s executive branch will administer the authority as an “in kind” contribution to our neighbors with the city absorbing the cost. This will enable other participants to focus their spending on actual improvements, and not overhead.
• Projects design, construction and maintenance will be outsourced to the private sector with local vendors receiving preference where practical. This will create much-needed new jobs and help jump-start our sluggish economy.
Colorado Springs can fund its priority capital improvements over at least the next half decade — without asking our fellow citizens for a new tax or fee. Here’s how:
• Repurpose $7.9 million in current expense for “SCIP” (Springs Community Improvements Program) bonds soon to be paid off. Add $7 million from internal efficiencies we are achieving. Sell new bonds — without raising taxes and subject to voter approval — providing $175 million available for capital projects.
• Spend $35 million per year ($20M stormwater, $11.5M roads and bridges, $2.5M public safety and $1.0M parks). Separately, dedicate general fund line items for ongoing maintenance.
• The city will detail its improvements to be completed each year in each capital expenditure category, and report quarterly to the community on its progress toward measurable goals.
• Our current debt (excluding leases) is approximately $83 million, and will be reduced to $50 million once the SCIP bonds are retired. New bonding of $190 million will then bring our total encumbrance to $240 million – well below the $400 million Charter debt limit.
• Our outside investment counsel and finance experts advise we can readily amortize the new bonding with payments of $14.9 million per year within a $246 million general fund budget.
After the next half decade, if a growing economy and sales tax plus our continuous efficiency initiatives are not sufficient to provide adequate funding, we can then ask our fellow citizens to dig deeper into their pockets — but not until we have exhausted all reasonable efforts to deploy existing cash flows.
As your mayor, and as your city government, we owe that to you.
I have lived in Colorado Springs since 1974 and stormwater was an issue when I moved here and remains an issue to this this day. The Stormwater Enterprise was finally starting to make a dent in this problem but the community would not accept it calling it (thanks to efforts of Mr. Bruce) a rain tax. It was however, declared a reasonable and legitimate fee by the courts. City Council at the time under pressure from Bruce and his vocal followers backed out of it to honor the so called "wishes of the voters." The mayor's plan is nothing but the same old do as little as possible plan we have been following for the past 40 plus years. This is the major issue facing our community and we need to tackle it with a regional solution to do it right.
the teabaggers around here will never vote for a fee or tax or whatever you call it. the city and county will continue to crumble into a third world like infrastructure. where is the story about how much we will be sued by pueblo for not keeping our agreement for stormwater maintenance? greedy and short sighted thinking is ruining this village.
Forget the new fees or taxes - we just got fleeced for $2 billion to pay for a water project and our wallets need a rest.
These issues didn't arise in a year and don't need to be fixed in a year. Set aside $15-20 million a year from the general fund and then attack them in priority order.
For storm water, which option best 'floats your boat': a regional unified approach or the separate entity approach? And how do you feel each might influence public willingness to fund this critical need? Please consider taking our 'quick-poll' below. The option to respond and comment in an entirely anonymous manner is possible. Thank you.
Do you think maybe an entity calling itself a newspaper might be able to get an accounting of what is supposed to be PUBLIC knowledge and how the PUBLIC'S money is being spent? Laying off PUBLIC employees and outsourcing their jobs after promises of job creation is not a red flag to anyone? Eliminating positions then recreating them with different titles and hiring associates to fill the new "positions" has a definition, (guess what it is?) "Well we asked and they said no so we will review a restaurant instead"
Tackling problems that plague this city such as smoking in the park and training employees what to do when a crazed gunman enters the city administration building have been top priority since... when?? How much was spent on new security systems for that building? Special clearance needed to go from one floor to another? A big screen TV for what purpose? A PUBLIC employee acting as personal bodyguard because... why??
Not to worry though as any allegations of government misconduct will be investigated and found to be without merit by the government so move along, nothing to see here.
Has anyone seen the checkbook lately??
Sorry happyfew, but Amendment 64 was passed in this state for recreational marijuana to be sold and regulated "like alcohol"! Meaning just that. A 25% tax is definitely not what was intended or voted for, and at that rate they will just drive recreational pot back to the street market where there is no exorbitant tax or regulation!
if it was passed on the concept of the tax money helping the economy, you can't really complain about it when the tax part comes around.
If Brett Reese is not an out-and-out racist, he is a sad example of a gullible dupe.
The false charge of "sexual deviate" made against the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., originated in FBI headquarters as part of a secret operation named Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Under COINTELPRO, Dr. King was one of many civil rights leaders placed under illegal surveillance. When this did not yield any evidence of wrongdoing, the FBI used another COINTELPRO tactic, as described in Wikipedia: "...smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media..."
When COINTELPRO was exposed in 1971, the files on Dr. King were sealed to protect the FBI--not Dr. King or his family. All the documents the FBI had forged to smear Dr. King had already been disseminated to journalists as part of the campaign. The only remaining secrets were those detailing the FBI's patently illegal operations, which if made public would have left the FBI open to a myriad of lawsuits.
Some time after the files were sealed racists took advantage of the situation to revive the false charge against Dr. King, arguing that the files were sealed to protect his reputation and substituting lurid innuendo for actual evidence.
This is not the first time this racist propaganda has surfaced in Colorado Springs. Former El Paso County Commissioner Betty Beedy also cited it once in opposing the public holiday honoring Dr. King.
It is not enough to just "talk about the truth." Sometimes you need to investigate to learn the truth.
While I said Jim Reid is a stand-up guy, Todd Evans (associated with Mr. Elder in previous posts) is also a stand-up guy - i.e. a man of integrity and competence. I would be skeptical of anyone throwing stones at either man. I have worked with both, and have great respect for both. Just because someone has a plan to achieve a goal, doesn't make them a scoundrel. One doesn't get to these positions without goals and plans.
Please, vote for anyone but Paula Presley. She is more of the same, with documented incompetence - punishing deputies for actions they were trained to do in the EPSO academy, and supported by law, policy, and court decisions, yet refusing to acquiesce when informed of her mistakes. Her close affiliation with Makita is surrounded by rumors of ... well, you know. Jim Reid was always a stand-up guy. I hope, if elected, he would not continue the last twelve years of cloak-and-dagger shenanigans Makita likes to play with his employees.
Interesting. I own a business in Manitou that was heavily damaged in the August flooding. I applied for an SBA disaster loan. I had ALL of my paperwork in within 48 hours. Eventually I was denied because . . . I don't have flood insurance. I explained that if I had flood insurance I wouldn't be applying for a disaster loan. My flood premium quote before the flood in Manitou was 48,500.00. It is expected to double now due to the catastrophe. Last week I heard that FEMA was in town ( I have yet to be notified in any way) so I called to see if they could assist my business. No. They are only assisting individuals but they said they would be happy to refer me to the SBA who has a terrific program for assisting businesses . . .
Based on this article, it is very apparent that Bach is the developer's puppet. Steve Schuck and Chris Jenkins are only interested in padding their pockets and maintaining their influence and control over the developers and Bach. Bach said he wanted to create 6000 jobs yet he continues to significantly reduce jobs in the government. How can you create all those jobs while eliminating jobs? Like usual, Bach is speaking out of both sides of his face and still seems to have trouble with the truth and transparency. They are not concerned about benefitting the citizens of Colorado Springs. They are most concerned with their buddies who live in the more affluent areas in the 80906 and 80919 zip codes. Pam, thank you again for researching these issues and providing us with the entire story, not the watered down version.
How is it that "there's also the expectation of receiving $31.7 million in "surplus revenue" from city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities" while the same utility is asking for a $51 million rate increase in order to meet the newest set of EPA regulations?
How about we let CSU keep their "surplus revenue" and SKIP the rate increase?
City government that is more "efficient, sustainable and business-friendly"--minus a high-performing sustainability function that created more efficiency in government, and supported local businesses...
Well Stacy, probably once or twice a month I see a report about the FCC shutting down some id10t with a power amp on their CB, so it is just a matter of time before they get to you.
The laws are definitely tilted toward the employer in this community and state....I worked as a nurse at Penrose Hospital a few years ago. I became crippled as a result of botched surgery there (like a month in a coma!) and then was TERMINATED "because I could no longer do the work"!. My family and I lost the benefits, including health insurance, one month later? About the same time, a fellow RN came down with breast cancer and received the same charitable heave ho as well. We both consulted labor attorneys and got the same answer "Yup, they can do that". My big mistake was expecting my employer to adhere to a higher standard of ethics - (You know, those nice Catholic "values"....)
Is this the same FCC that still hasn't caught me transmitting 80w on my CB radio when the law says I am only supposed to be at 4 or less? They are doing a great job.
Low power FM has been allowed by the FCC for a long time. I can remember having one at our high school several decades ago and even some drive-in movie theaters using low power FM. What the change in 2000 did was to change the categories of LPFM stations and who had to get a license vs who did not. IIRC it used to be anyone with 1/4 watt or less ERP and antenna no more than 20 ft above ground did not require a license, but had to operate on a non-interference basis and could face fines if interference was proven. The 2000 law defined license classes L10 of up to 10 watts and L100 of up to 100 watts and unlicenced was limited to about 1/100th of a watt.
There is $200,000 in requested funding for City for Champions in the Mayor's budget. It is funding that was requested by Council, from the Lodgers & Automobile Rental Tax (LART), to the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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