Thursday, August 16, 2018

The building department has too much money. Now it must give it away.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 8:00 AM

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Here's something you don't hear a lot: A local government agency has collected so much money in fees that it now has to find a way to give away the cash.

More details the planned give-away by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department were revealed at an Aug. 15 meeting of the Regional Building Advisory Committee.

The committee advises the Regional Building Commission, comprised of three elected officials from the region.

In an informal program, RBD gave away nearly $1 million in 2016 and 2017 from its reserve fund, which has topped $10 million. And that doesn't include cash that will flow in from building permit and inspection fees from the series of hail storms that have hit the area this summer, most recently on Aug. 6.
The criteria for the donations program include:

• Funds must be available to disperse without adversely affecting RBD's services.

• Applicants must be an active 501(c)(3) with an IRS nonprofit designation.

• Requests must be directly related to the construction industry in El Paso County or directly related to construction activity or promote the education, knowledge and awareness of the industry.

• Proposed projects must demonstrate a benefit to the public in El Paso County.

• Applicants must submit an annual budget and other financial information.
The program will be closed to endowments, individuals, organizations that don't have fiscal responsibility for the proposed project, religious programs, requests for overhead costs, programs designed to influence a legislative purpose or political race, programs to produce media projects, or any programs outside El Paso County.

"Unless something changes, we're good," Advisory Board chair Darren Tiffany said.

Jina Koultchizka, RBD's attorney, said the proposed policy, in draft form at this time, would be submitted to the Regional Building Commission at its Aug. 29 meeting.

However, Commission member Mark Waller, who's an El Paso County commissioner, has said he wouldn't support the measure until all jurisdictions covered by RBD have had a chance to weigh in.

The advisory board also reviewed a 2018 budget amendment and the proposed 2019 budget. A 25-percent fee reduction effective Aug. 1 through year's end would be extended through 2019 under the budget proposal, as would a licensing rewards program that waives licensing fees for all contractors who have had a clean record for three years.

The idea is to chip away at the growing reserve fund, which is supposed to be no more than 50 percent of budget under the intergovernmental agreement with seven member agencies — Colorado Springs, Fountain, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Monument, Palmer Lake and El Paso County.

But due to a July 2016 hail storm and an uptick in economic activity, the reserves have ballooned.

RBD plans to hire 14.5 positions this year to deal with growing work demands, which will eat up $629,242 in fees, while next year's spending will exceed revenues by roughly $1 million, reducing the reserves.

But RBD doesn't yet know how the hail storms will impact revenues, so it's possible reserves could grow.

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