It is so refreshing to have information reported on the locations and extent of the fires. Maketa is on top of this fire! The reports on this fire are a vast improvement from what the "officials" wouldn't tell us during the Waldo fire.
I was evacuated during the Waldo fire and I could get no information about the fire location, boundaries, homes impacted, etc. I hope the people in charge have learned that if you keep people in a vacuum, the void will be filled with something. Bach, Forte, Marr, et. al., are you observing and learning?
Pam: Please investigate the purchase and payment for these propertties. The City did not pay for these "purchases" and utilities did not foreclose on them. I think Utilities wrote off the money owed as bad debt. The result is that the natural gas utility customers are paying for these properties in their utility bills. Yes, we are subsidizing the U.S. Olympic building through our utility bills. It would be interesting to know how much the City did not pay and impact that is having on our utility bills. This is a worthy article!
Does anyone really think that the City Council is capable of governing the utilities? Do you think the City Auditor is capable of thoroughly reviewing utility rates? History has shown that they see the utilities as a cash cow for the city to milk for extra revenues.
FYI: the CS utilities rates for electric and natural gas are no lower than PSCO (now Xcel) in Denver, and they haven't been lower in the long run for over 30 years. Furthermore, Xcel pays taxes and owner dividends. I also know Xcel is not an efficiently run utility - so you can draw your own conclusions about how well CSU is operated.
Issue 300 also included the requirement of phasing out Utilities Payment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to the City. How convenient that Bach & Melcher forget that provision of the ballot item. The former City Attorney and City Council found a method to not implement the elimination of PILT and thus the voters were basically told their votes meant nothing. The will of the people was simply disregarded. In fact, the City auditor contrived to increase PILT payments to the city. Where is Doug Bruce when we need him?
The Stormwater needs are a result of the developers not performing the drainage mitigation that should have been required of them when they developed land. The City was so naive, they put the developers in charge of monitoring and enforcing the stormwater requirements. Basically, the city put the fox inside the hen house to oversee it. Does this sound familiar?
To add insult to injury, recently I've seen several Utility trucks at restaurants around 8:30 to 9 in the mornings. The employees are inside enjoying breakfast. I've seen this at numerous restaurants around town. Shouldn't these employees be working during these times?
Our utility bills keep going up and the utility leadership is obviously incompetent.
John Hazelhurst is correct. The City Council, a.k.a. the Utilities Board is absolutely ignorant of the utility business. They have an inherent conflict of interest when deciding on issues about payment in lieu of taxes, street lights and other money or services provided to the city and paid or provided by the utilities. The City Council also likes to subsidize development, which is conveniently accomplished by reducing water and wastewater tap fees with the reduced revenue being recovered through increased water and wastewater rates. There has been a long standing practice of using utility ratepayer money to provide hidden funds to the city.
I’ve compared electric and natural gas rates between Colorado Springs and Denver for 30 years, and I can tell you there has been very little difference in rates over all of the 30 years. Imagine if the electric and natural gas utilities were sold. We, the owners, could receive a small fraction of the Owners’ Equity with the remaining purchase price proceeds going to the city. The city of Colorado Springs would receive enough money to solve their financial issues for decades – assuming of course they didn’t frivolously squander the money.
How do we get the sale of the electric and natural gas utilities implemented?
The utility rates and connection charges have been historically set by methods accepted throughout the utility industry. Connection charges for water and wastewater have been based on a modified equity buy in approach that has stood the test of time and is still in wide practice. It establishes connection rates based on the concept of new customers (i.e. newly developed land with new construction) paying for their fair share of the existing infrastructure plus their utilization of the infrastructure estimates for the next 5 years – all of which provide new construction with immediate and direct benefit.
Now our City Council wants to subsidize new construction on the backs of the existing rate payers – this is outrageous! The unfortunate and shameful outcome of this has been ongoing, as utility rate payers have already subsidized land developments and the city beyond what is normal. Do you remember the street light fee on your utility bill? Do you remember the gas utility real estate and buildings that were “given” to the Olympic Committee and the city (the city totally mismanaged and destroyed the building they were obligated to pay for but defaulted on the loan which was forgiven)? Do you remember that utilities paid for the maintenance of the police helicopters? Do you remember the mysterious money that the city auditor discovered was owed the city in payment in lieu of taxes? City council does not care about proper utility rate setting – their concerns are focused on how to burden utility rate payers with more of the costs of operating the city.
Pam Zubeck: Please do some research on the above issues. Print the 10 year forecast of residential bill utility rates with the current connection charges versus the newly proposed connection charges! Show the past 10 years of payment in lieu of taxes amounts, which should be easily obtained. Then reprint the Issue 300 ballot item from 2009!
Utility customers; somehow we need PUC oversight of the utility rates. The city council has routinely used the utility enterprise as a source of extra cash for the city. Utilities pays the city over $30 million annually as payment in lieu of taxes already, which is more than most municipal utilizes pay for the privilege of providing utility service. This irresponsibility needs to stop!
On a final note: each utility service (water, wastewater, electricity and natural gas) needs to collect only the cost associated with the specific service. Methods of allocating common costs to each service are well known and commonly used in rate setting. Electricity and natural gas rates should not be subsidizing or off-setting water and wastewater rates!
Perhaps it is time to sell the utilities!
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