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Early voting underway, utility rates going up, and more 

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Voting underway

More than 15,000 voters had already returned their ballots as of Monday morning in the Nov. 8 presidential election, which is about on par with predictions for El Paso County, says Ryan Parsell with the Clerk and Recorder's Office.

The office mailed 370,000 ballots. As of 10 a.m. Monday, 15,369 ballots had been returned. The clerk's office expects a turnout this year of 75 percent to 80 percent, compared to an average in past presidential years of about 70 percent.

It's impossible to directly compare this year's election to others, however, because this is the first all-mail ballot in a presidential year, Parsell says.

There's still time to request a ballot and vote. For details, go to EPCVotes.com or call the clerk's office at 575-8683. The link includes polling center locations, how to register to vote, how to request a ballot, adequate postage for returning ballots (68 cents), and other information.

By election day, a total of 25 polling centers will be open from Falcon to Fort Carson. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Postmarked ballots received after that deadline will not be counted.

Utility rates rising

City-owned Colorado Springs Utilities is proposing increases to water rates that would raise the bill for a typical residential customer by $3.09 starting Jan. 1. But a slight decrease in wastewater rates would offset that by 49 cents.

Water rate changes would bring a 6 percent increase to the typical industrial user, and 6.5 percent to commercial users. Wastewater rates also would rise for those classes, by 4.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Industrial customers won't see gas or electric rates rise, but commercial users' electric bills would go up by 5.4 percent under the proposal.

If approved by Council in coming weeks, the new rates would become effective on Jan. 1.

Separate from all that are electric and gas cost adjustments due to fuel costs. Those changes would cause a residential bill to go up by $5.86 a month; commercial, $87.23; and industrial, $2,671.28.

Those changes would become effective Nov. 1 if approved by Council as expected on Tuesday (after the Independent's press deadline).

RBD kills partner deal

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department has abandoned plans to partner with Nor'wood Development Group on developing its downtown property.

Regional Building Official Roger Lovell says via email, "RBD is not moving forward with the partnership arrangement with Nor'wood."

After the Indy outlined the proposed deal ("Partnering up," News, Sept. 14), RBD pulled back, with Lovell saying the deal might violate state statutes.

The land in question comprises two tracts: 435 Sahwatch St. and 101-111 W. Costilla St. Together, they're worth about $2.1 million and lie within the area where the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, and parking garages, are to be built.

Storm backlash

A record-setting hailstorm that struck Colorado Springs on July 28 is being felt by local public offices even today.

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office has asked employees in the motor vehicle department to work a few Saturdays to assure vehicle registrations go out in time. Spokesman Ryan Parsell says the office has received about 5,000 more registrations than the same quarter last year and expects to receive more due to the storm.

Pikes Peak Regional Building Department notes in its 2017 budget proposal that up to 50,000 re-roof permits are expected to be issued because of the storm. The storm and an uptick in activity because of a rebounding economy are leading the department to hire seven new workers next year.

An insurance trade publication, Claims Journal, reported that the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association said the storm resulted in 84,500 auto and homeowner insurance claims, which included 51,300 vehicle claims and 33,200 property claims. Together, damage was estimated at more than $350 million, the sixth most damaging event in state history.

Sublease for kids hospital

City Council was expected to approve on Oct. 25 a sublease of the Memorial Hospital North Campus for construction of a pediatric hospital by Children's Hospital Colorado.

The approval stems from the city's 2012 lease of the Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health. "A formal agreement on a Pediatric Hospital is not required under the agreements, but will help ensure the pediatric hospital operation is consistent with the terms of the agreements," the city said in a release.

The new facility, to be located near Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway, would increase availability of specialized pediatric services, the release said.

Compiled by Pam Zubeck.

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