Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UPDATE TWO: Bach seeks more hearings on Utilities budget

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 5:16 PM

UPDATE TWO: Council President Scott Hente sent Mayor Steve Bach a letter today in response to his previous communications that recommended the Utilities Board, consisting of the City Council, do its budget hearings differently.

Here's Hente's letter:


UPDATE: Dave Grossman, a Utilities spokesman, got back to us as to what is available to citizens and what hearings are on the horizon. Here's his response:

Regarding your question on the budget process:
· We are committed to transparency regarding our budget and already provide much of the information that the mayor is suggesting.
· Below are the budget links that were posted at csu.org on Oct. 12. As you review the documents, I think you will agree that there is a tremendous amount of budget detail here. The FERC O&M Account detail breaks expenditures down by service and division.

Introduction to the 2013 Budget: CEO Message to the Community

Draft 2013 Annual Operating Plan and Budget

Draft 2013 FERC Operations and Maintenance Account Detail

· The budget will be formally presented to the Utilities Board on October 17th.
· The first reading of the budget will be at the City Council meeting on Nov. 13.
· The second reading and decision on the budget will be at the City Council meeting on Nov. 27.
· The public is invited to attend all of these meetings. Meetings can also be viewed live (and afterwards) at csu.org.


Mayor Steve Bach is again elbowing his way into the middle of Colorado Springs Utilities, although he has no vote on the Utilities Board. That's City Council's domain.

Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Bach: Offering recommendations.

On Friday, Bach wrote a letter to Utilities Board Chair and Council President Scott Hente, saying:

I am writing to offer a recommendation with regard to the Council review and approval of the proposed 2013 Budget for Colorado Springs Utilities (“CSU”) currently scheduled for November. The City submitted its Budget to Council and to the public on October 1st, and is currently in the midst of two days of public discussions with Council on the Budget. As you know, the City Budget will also be the subject of a public hearing. All of these efforts provide assurance to our community that the City Budget is open and transparent, and is available to public input over an extended period of time. This effort builds public confidence in our stewardship of precious resources.

It is my belief that the same process should be followed by Council when the proposed 2013 Budget for CSU is presented to Council. Council should consider scheduling public presentations by CSU on the CSU Budget in front of Council in November, to be followed by a public hearing. These efforts would occur prior to the required two readings of the CSU Budget and Council approval. The CSU Budget is four times the size of the City Budget and of great complexity. The same careful review and public discussion that is applied to the City Budget will be of great benefit for the CSU Budget.

Thank you for your consideration. I appreciate Council’s hard work on behalf of our community.

In a second letter, Bach "recommends" the Utilities Board adopt the same type of budget reporting style as the city of Colorado Springs:

The first recommendation is for CSU to prepare an addendum to the current proposed 2013 Budget which offers an organization chart and a Budget description for each department, division, and section of CSU in the same manner that has been prepared and provided to Council for the 2013 City Budget.

Colorado springs utilities
  • Hente: At the helm.

In that letter, Bach notes he's an "ex officio member of the Utilities Board." This is true. What does ex officio mean? It means Bach is welcome to attend all Utilities Board meetings, including the executive sessions, but he has no vote.

How many has he attended? None, according to Utilities officials.

Anyhow, Hente isn't of a mind to change the board's hearing methods, saying the board has already conducted a couple of work sessions, which have been open to the public. Subsequent meetings and hearings will be sufficiently noticed to the public as required by law, he notes.

Those include a first and second reading of the budget in the next month or two. "We have agenda items for the budget, all of which are open to the public and public comment," Hente says.

The next such item takes place this week, in fact. It begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. Here's the agenda:

1:00 - Call to Order
1:05 - Minutes
1:10 - Recognition/Customer Comment Period
1:20 - Governance Monitoring Reports (see attachments)
A. Annual Report on Executive Limitation (EL) 5 — Compensation and Benefits Monitoring
B. Quarterly Report on Contracts Issued Over $50,000 Executive Limitation (EL) 8 — Communication and Support to the Board Monitoring
C. Chief Executive Officer’s Communication Executive Limitation (EL) 8 — Communication and Support to the Board Monitoring
1:30 - Drake Retirement Analysis Update
3:00 - 2013-2017 Strategic Plan and 2013 Annual Operating Plan
4:00 - Quarterly Board Performance Evaluation Governance Process (GP) 2 — Governing Style
General Board Discussion

"So," Hente says, "the thing he's asked us to do, we believe we already have." Hente didn't speak to the request to revamp Utilities' budget in the same format as that used by Bach for the city's general fund.

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