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Noted: Utilities could go to court 

Utilities headed for court?

Picking through tedious language that would guarantee water storage and conveyance from Pueblo Reservoir for decades, Colorado Springs Utilities continued negotiations Tuesday with the Bureau of Reclamation, which runs Pueblo Reservoir — this city's source of water for its $2.3 billion pipeline project.

But after about six hours of talks, there was still a standoff over the price. Reclamation wants to charge Colorado Springs $50 per acre foot per year to store water and another $50 per acre foot per year to convey the city's 28,000 acre feet of water, although it charges the Pueblo Board of Water Works only $17.35 for storage and nothing for conveyance.

Reclamation counter-proposed a charge of $75 for conveyance and storage combined and a 3.1 percent inflation factor, higher than Pueblo's. Utilities spokesman Janet Rummel says the city hasn't analyzed the "complex" proposal, but says the city still wants its deal to be consistent with Pueblo's. Utilities wants to pay zero for conveyance, because the city plans to build a new multi-million-dollar north outlet and deed it at no charge to Reclamation.

Another meeting is set for July 15 and 16 in Fountain. — PZ

Munger for mayor

Dave Munger, president of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, has announced he is running for mayor in the April 2011 election. Munger is the third to announce, after real estate broker Tim Leigh and defense contractor Buddy Gilmore.

"There are three things I'd like to see done," Munger says. "I'd like to be part of restoring trust in government, I think we've got to create more jobs and quality jobs in this community ... and I'd like to see us advance community.""

Munger says he's running for mayor instead of City Council because he wants to be at the forefront of solving problems.

"The mayor's in the bully pulpit," he says. "There needs to be someone in this city that wakes up every morning and says 'what can I do to make this city a better place?'"

Munger, a retired businessman, serves on the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, the Memorial Health System Citizens' Commission and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's Citizens Advisory Committee. He says he's undecided on the "strong mayor" concept. — JAS

NORAD returns underground

After ditching their 2,000-foot-deep granite bunker for above-ground office building headquarters in 2008, the nation's homeland security watchdogs continue to practice moving back underground ... just in case. U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command have been conducting drills in which operations move from Peterson Air Force Base to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, which the commands abandoned in May 2008 after a former commander decided Peterson was a better site.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Doscher, U.S. NorthCom/NORAD public affairs, says in a recent article that the commands practice "often" to "help the command center crews make sure they can pick up and move operations as quickly as possible."

The move from the mountain was controversial because it triggered spending tens of millions at Peterson, leading to questions about Peterson's security level compared to the mountain.

"The goal is to be able to move everything to Cheyenne Mountain without a break in operations," command center director Col. Scott Glascock says in the article. "That means we want everything to be plug and play and work the first time. To do that, we have to practice."

Systems in the mountain have stayed on "warm standby" since the move. — PZ

Sheriff debates uncertain

Sheriff Terry Maketa apparently has agreed to two debates with challenger Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk, but when and where remain up in the air. Shirk spokesman Kyle Fisk says Maketa left a voice-mail saying he would agree to two debates and wants them in late July.

Fisk says Shirk wants four but will settle for two. He wants them to begin within the next week and be concluded by July 19, before early balloting begins.

When the details will be worked out — such as who will moderate and where they'll take place — is unclear, Fisk says, adding, "The (Maketa) campaign manager (Wendy Habert) has yet to agree to a meeting to sit down and finalize the details."

Habert didn't return a call from the Independent seeking information.

Meanwhile, a complaint that Shirk is in violation of the Hatch Act, which Maketa noted in a campaign press release last week, isn't likely to be upheld, Fisk says, because it applies to non-elected officials who have discretionary authority over federal funds. — PZ

Corsentino bids goodbye

Fountain Police Chief Dan Corsentino resigned Tuesday, citing a new job opportunity and telling his department to buck up.

"I have great confidence that if the men and women of this organization would unify, work together, and seek excellence at every level you would become an excellent police organization," he wrote in an e-mail to staff.

Corsentino, former Pueblo County sheriff, was hired in February 2009 after the previous chief resigned following an investigation about the loss of his gun. His final day will be June 30. — PZ

Up, up, up

The city's sales and use tax collections were up again in May — this time a full 14.17 percent above May 2009.

The positive report means that total collections are up 8.21 percent year-to-date over 2009. The positive trend has led City Council to ask for a revised budget that reflects a more positive revenue forecast.

The city gets about 50 percent of its revenues from sales and use tax. Collections have been improving compared to a year before since November 2009.

In May, all major retail industries showed increases compared to a year before, with the biggest gains occurring in building materials (20.91 percent increase), auto dealers (20.28 percent increase), and sales to business (18.19 percent increase). Total collection dollars, however, have not recovered to pre-recession levels. In May 2007, the city had collected $37.9 million year to date. This May, that number stands at $35.4 million.

Compiled by J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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