Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Splitting fire crews/hiring lawyers. Council tackles 2015 budget.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 12:27 PM

click to enlarge Chief Riley speaking to City Council this morning.
  • Chief Riley speaking to City Council this morning.
As City Council members slog through Mayor Steve Bach's proposed 2015 budget, many things arise that are worthy of note.

This morning, for example, during a budget work session, councilors heard from Fire Chief Chris Riley who asserts that removing a company of firefighters from Station 19, 2490 Research Pkwy., to staff the soon-to-be-built Station 22, 13075 Voyager Pkwy., won't impede response times and actually will speed them up.

"The staffing plan is to split the current staffing at 19 and staff [Station 22] with existing personnel," Riley said. "We will actually improve our eight minute response times to that planning zone up north and not have a reduction to our 12-minute [structure fire coverage] response. We’re taking existing personnel, we’re redeploying it accordingly and will have more efficiencies to meet our current call volume."

Riley further explained that Station 19 has two engine companies and one truck company. One engine and its four-person crew will be moved to Station 22.

Councilor Joel Miller said the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 5 has expressed "concern of coverage gaps" related to Riley's plan, but Riley says he is doing what he can with the budget he's been given. "If we had more money, certainly we’d like to consider staffing it with an additional crew," Riley said.

Councilor Don Knight noted that Station 19 will be the only one in the city with two apparatus but only enough crew for one of them.

We wrote about this 10 months ago, reporting that firefighters have fallen short of target response times in various parts of the city, including the north sector.

Station 22 will go into service sometime in 2015, Riley said, but the date hasn't been stated. The facility will be built by Gary Erickson, developer of the Copper Ridge shopping area, which includes Bass Pro Shop.


City Attorney Wynetta Massey
came before Council this morning as well to discuss her budget. She said she's set aside $250,000 for legal defense work for 2015, with several specific cases in mind.

One of those is the lawsuit filed by Kat Tudor and Don Goede with Smokebrush Foundation seeking compensation for possible contamination of the Smokebrush property next to a vacant lot at 25 Cimino Dr., the site of a gasification plant that left some nasty hydrocarbons behind. Those contaminants were disturbed during a demolition hired done by the city in early 2013.

We featured this situation in a cover story in April 2013,  ("Chemical reactions in downtown Colorado Springs," April 24, 2013) Since then, a district judge ruled against the city's motion to dismiss, saying the city cannot hide behind governmental immunity in this case. That ruling is on appeal by the city.

But Massey suggested the city might be getting out its checkbook. "Environmental liability? The sky is the limit," she told Council. "Assuming the city is found somehow environmentally liable, I have no idea what that amount would look like. We have to take environmental issues very seriously."

She added, "We had a feeling there might be environmental issues ... Now we’re trying to quantify it. If there’s an environmental issue, the city’s on the hook for it."

Other cases requiring legal defense funding (for outside counsel) include the Banning Lewis Ranch bankruptcy action in which the owner, Ultra Petroleum, has sought to have the 1988 annexation agreement set aside.

Here are descriptions of the other cases she named, as they appear in the city's quarterly legal report:

Contract Management Inc. d/b/a US Roads v. City of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Rural
Transportation Authority.

El Paso County District Court Case No. 2013CV30652
CLAIM: US Roads was awarded a contract through an Invitation to Bid to perform certain
road improvements to Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs (the “Project”). Plaintiff claims City
Defendants breached the contract that was executed on July 29, 2011 and received unjust
enrichment at the expense of US Roads.

Cusack, Mark E. v. Daniela Francis Cusack aJk/a Daniela F. Cusack; The City of Colorado
a municipal corporation; and all unknown persons who may claim any interest in the
subject matter of this action
El Paso County District Court Case No. 2013CV32158.
CLAIM: Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment in this matter and a determination of adverse
possession, alleging that he is entitled to a decree vesting title in the subject property to him.
Plaintiff also seeks as declaratory judgment that a Warranty Deed conveying an interest in the
property to the City in 1973 was for an easement only and not for a fee interest, as claimed by
the City.
(There's apparently a city water line on this property.)

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