Monday, August 7, 2017

City Council to discuss flood control fee measure

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 1:09 PM

click to enlarge On Feb. 23, Mayor Suthers said he would wait for a stormwater ballot measure until he reached resolution with the EPA. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • On Feb. 23, Mayor Suthers said he would wait for a stormwater ballot measure until he reached resolution with the EPA.
Monday, August 7, City Council will discuss placing a measure before voters to fund a stormwater enterprise to chip away at a backlog of projects and maintenance of existing drainage facilities.

Perhaps during that discussion, someone could ask Mayor John Suthers what changed his mind about forging ahead with a ballot measure before the EPA lawsuit is hashed out.

The EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sued the city in November 2016 alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and stating the city doesn't hold developers to its own drainage requirements, among other things.

Earlier this year, we had a sit-down with the mayor ("Mayor Suthers hits his stride in accomplishing campaign goals," March 1, 2017) and asked him about lots of things, stormwater chief among them. Here's that question and his answer [our emphasis]:

Indy: What is your long game on flood control, and what role will City Council play?

Suthers: First of all, it's more than flood control. Stormwater is both flood mitigation and water quality. The federal part of this case is all about water quality. The end game is to get a stormwater program that does right by the citizens of Colorado Springs and also meets all legal muster. And right now, the outstanding legal issue is with the federal and state government — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

My goal is to hopefully reach a resolution with them and then assess whether there's any more money involved than the intergovernmental agreement calls for. And then at some point, with the cooperation of Council, go to voters with a long-term solution to stormwater. Absent a dedicated revenue stream, that [$460 million for the agreement with Pueblo] is going to come from the general fund. That will put a lot of pressure on the general fund.

So the long-term goal, hopefully with the assistance of Council, and I don't know how we would pull it off without Council, is to go to the voters. That would provide a funding stream for stormwater and allow us to free up some general fund money for some other obligations I see coming down the pike.
Makes you wonder what's changed, so that now he wants to rush to the ballot for stormwater funding before it's known how much EPA expects the city to pay per year. Or perhaps Suthers does know, and that's giving rise to the ballot measure.

Some of those other obligations he referred to in February include police hires and pay and replacing city vehicles.

Council meets at 1 p.m. Watch the meeting here.

Here are the proposed ordinance and resolution:

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