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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Housing and Building Association stormwater measure's biggest donor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:17 AM

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Final campaign finance reports for the Nov. 7 election's city issue on stormwater fees aren't due until Dec. 7, but reports filed just before the election show the "vote yes" committee raised nearly 13 times as much as the "vote no" committee received.

Invest COS, run by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC's Rachel Beck, brought in $447,645, while raised only $35,635, a big chunk of which came from Americans for Prosperity.

The biggest single donor to Invest COS appears to be the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, a group of builders, developers and other businesses involved in development.

The HBA gave $37,500 to the stormwater "vote yes" group. In 2015, when voters approved the 2C road tax, the HBA gave $10,000 to Springs Citizens Building the Future, the "vote yes" group.

Some observers have argued that had the city not given developers a pass on stormwater infrastructure over the years, we wouldn't be in the predicament we're in — facing a backlog of some $400-plus million in drainage needs. The counterpoint argument notes that several decades ago, drainage strategies were dramatically different than best practices today.

Back then, the idea was to get rid of runoff ASAP, which meant building concrete channels to funnel water to streams and creeks. Today, urban designers says it's a better practice to hold the water back in drainage ponds and wetlands, which reduces the sediment that washes into creeks and, ultimately, rivers.

Regardless, we asked the HBA's CEO Renee Zentz why the HBA pumped so much money into the stormwater measure, which, starting July 1, 2018, will charge every household $5 a month, and owners of nonresidential property $30 per acre per month.

She says via email:
The Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association supports many community initiatives that will improve our City. Not only did CSHBA support 2A, our Board of Directors also voted to support other ballots issues such as:
- Issue 1A and the RTA Override to improve Interstate 25
- School District 11, 3, and 12

CSHBA has always been an active supporter of ballot items that will benefit the community. Specifically related to storm water, a significant number of the 71 projects listed are for locations within existing neighbors that were developed decades ago without the current City standards. These improvements benefit the City as a whole. This was a widely endorsed initiative from diverse groups/organizations, I would hope that is story worthy. 

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