Monday, September 10, 2018

UPDATE: Regional Building Department asked to donate $200,000 to Salvation Army

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 1:33 PM

click to enlarge Children's Hospital as it appeared last year under construction in the north part of Colorado Springs. It received $150,000 from RBD. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Children's Hospital as it appeared last year under construction in the north part of Colorado Springs. It received $150,000 from RBD.

UPDATE: To be clear, the $200,000 request is for updates and renovation at the Salvation Army Shelter and Services at R.J. Montgomery, 709 S. Sierra Madre ST., not a facility on Weber Street.

————ORIGINAL POST 1: 33 P.M. MONDAY, SEPT. 10, 2018————————

A recovering economy and a devastating July 2016 hail storm pumped the coffers at Pikes Peak Regional Building to overflowing with money from inspection and building fees.

Feeling flush, RBD officials gave away nearly $1 million during 2016 and 2017 without any guidelines on how the money would be disseminated. When those give-aways became public, and not everyone was thrilled with the practice, RBD decided to put their philanthropic activities on ice until a policy was adopted.
Jill Gaebler: More information is needed. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • Jill Gaebler: More information is needed.

RBD is sitting on a reserve of some $10 million, not including $3.1 million it has from the sale of a downtown property.

Now, still lacking a policy, the Regional Building Commission is set to approve a $200,000 request by Salvation Army to expand its homeless shelter at 709 S. Sierra Madre St. South Weber Street by about 300 beds. (That's only part of the cost; another $250,000 came from a federal block grant program and $200,000 from another donor.)
A draft policy has been reviewed by both the Regional Building Advisory Board, and the panel it advises, the Regional Building Commission, comprised of Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand, Green Mountain Falls Town Trustee Tyler Stevens and El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller.

But the agency won't release the document. Although it's been placed on an overhead projector at meetings of the advisory board and building commission, RBD attorney Jina Koultchizka says she won't share it beyond that. Basically, the criteria for those seeking a donation: limit requests to nonprofits, require the request to be directly related to the building industry and require the project benefit El Paso County.
Commissioner Waller has repeatedly said he wants the policy to be circulated among all seven members of RBD, which includes Colorado Springs, Fountain, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Monument, Palmer Lake and El Paso County.

Toward that end, he, for one, is making sure the item is scheduled for discussion by the Board of County Commissioners sometime this month, he says. "If my colleagues have issues, then, we'll go from there," he says. "I want it to be out there. I don't want anybody saying, 'We didn't know about it,' that we're not being transparent. And, we want to make sure we do it correctly."
But as Strand tells the Indy, "I would suggest we don’t have to get permission from other organizations. That’s why we have a commission to make decisions in the best interest of the organization."

RBD meetings are generally held on weekdays during the hours most people are at work.

Jill Gaebler, Strand's colleague on City Council, is perturbed about al
Tom Strand: Wants approval of a new donation. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • Tom Strand: Wants approval of a new donation.
l this, saying she and others have had a hard time getting information from Strand about RBD. "He should represent the body [City Council] on that board, not his own opinion," she says, adding Strand doesn't give the Council the straight skinny, or any skinny, about what's happening at RBD.

Strand disputes that, saying, "I’ve been sharing everything with City Council. Much like [Colorado Springs] Utilities, we have a couple of members who think money shouldn’t go to anything other than what the organization was designed for." (He was referring to opposition from some Utilities Board members for payments made by the utility to nonprofits as "community partners.")

Asked if he would give the Indy a copy of the draft donations policy, Strand said, "I won’t give you a copy with her [Koultchizka] fighting it. I have provided it to all members of City Council... The public should attend our meetings. They’re open. You can be there, anybody can be there."

He also suggested the Indy acquire a copy from the RBD Commission president, Tyler Stevens, who didn't return the Indy's phone call.

Meantime, Strand wants to push ahead with the Salvation Army donation, regardless of the status of a donations policy, so that adding extra homeless beds isn't delayed.

Mark Waller: Wants to vet the donations policy. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY
  • Courtesy El Paso County
  • Mark Waller: Wants to vet the donations policy.
But then, it's possible both the donations policy and the Salvation Army donation will be approved considered on the same day.

RBD Building Official Roger Lovell says he expects both matters to be addressed on the Sept. 19 agenda for the Advisory Board's consideration. Lovell also says the donations proposal has been sent to all member governments, who can then comment as they wish, although the role of the Advisory Board, comprised of representatives of each member government, is to vet issue on behalf of those agencies.

The Advisory Board's recommendation on both issues will be taken up on Sept. 26 by the Building Commission.

Hold on, says Waller. "I'm not so sure we're going to vote on it in September," he says. He also notes Strand was a big opponent of the give-away program, but now he is endorsing the Salvation Army request.

When the Indy first reported on RBD's donations, Strand said this: “How did we get so involved with charitable kinds of things? I’m going to look into it, I promise you that. There shouldn’t be any extra [revenue for donations]. I’d like to take a hard look at that immediately.” 

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