City Gov

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Utilities will fund water and sewer relocations for Olympic Museum area

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Construction is under way on the Olympic Museum at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Construction is under way on the Olympic Museum at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue.
Colorado Springs Utilities is preparing to spend $1.3 million on water and wastewater line replacement and relocation to accommodate the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame and other development in the lower downtown area.

On the Wednesday, Oct. 18, Utilities Board agenda, Utilities proposes to fund 55 percent of a $1.9 million relocation of a wastewater line from the alley between Sahwatch and Sierra Madre streets to Sahwatch between Colorado Avenue and Cimarron Street.

The remaining cost, $875,000, would be paid by adjacent property owners, which is comprised mostly if not all by Nor'wood Development Group. Nor'wood is the master developer of the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area.

The existing pipe is old and doesn't meet current standards, Utilities CEO Jerry Forte said in a memo the Utilities Board, comprised of City Council.

An eight-inch water main in Vermijo Avenue needs to be relocated due to its age, the memo says, which will cost about $275,000, all of which would be funded by Utilities under an executive agreement with the city.

The idea is to authorize the projects so they can be coordinated with streetscape work next year, to be funded with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and city funds.

Or as the memo says, "Future cost savings and extending infrastructure integrity can be achieved when City or private sector-required utility modifications are collaboratively addressed to minimize or eliminate future street cuts...."

The Olympic Museum, which broke ground in June, is slated to open in mid-2019.




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Monday, October 16, 2017

Firefighters seek collective bargaining, raise money for campaign

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 12:26 PM

The Waldo Canyon Fire roars into the city in June 2012. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • The Waldo Canyon Fire roars into the city in June 2012.

Local firefighters aren't giving up on their desire to secure the right to collectively bargain with the city on pay and benefits.

As we reported in June, Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association Local 5 wants to be able to negotiate on behalf of its members. The city says it considers a state Senate bill that enables collective bargaining not applicable, because it is a home rule city.

Nevertheless, Local 5 is proceeding toward a ballot measure to put the question to voters, and firefighters are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

From Dave Noblitt, president of Local 5, via email:
We did have a special election over the summer to support a $200,000 plus assessment of our members to fund the measure. With a self imposed 51% participation of members involved for the vote to be considered valid, we were supported by almost 70% with over 220 members voting and a unanimous "yes" vote in moving forward. With the state association and the International lending their support, we are looking at a half million dollar campaign budget in moving forward. 

Noblitt goes on to say Local 5 will seek support from City Council in 2018 and community groups for its ballot measure, which might appear on either the November 2018 ballot or the city ballot in April 2019.

A slight pay raise for firefighters is included in Mayor John Suthers' proposed 2018 budget. If voters approve on Nov. 7 of a proposal to charge residents stormwater fees, that would free up general fund money for additional raises and to add personnel to the Fire Department, starting when the fees would begin, July 1, 2018.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Firefighters back stormwater measure

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 2:29 PM

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On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF-Local 5, announced it has endorsed the city's stormwater fee measure, 2A, on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The measure, if approved, would impose fees starting July 1, 2018, of $5 per month on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre on non-residential developed property. Tracts five acres and larger would be assessed based on impervious surface and assigned fees by the city's stormwater manager.

The fees would raise about $17 million a year, which would be used for stormwater in place of the currently budgeted $17 million in the general fund, thereby freeing that money for spending on other city needs.

Mayor John Suthers has said he would reallocate general fund dollars to hire more cops and firefighters, improve parks and upgrade the city's vehicle fleet.

Local 5's release:
Local 5’s Political Action Liaison, John Roy, mentioned that, “After careful consideration, our association has chosen to support the stormwater campaign. We have chosen to do so because we believe that this enterprise will ultimately make Colorado Springs safer and it will allow our firefighters the ability to more effectively do their job. Due to the lack of a dedicated stormwater fee, general fund dollars have long been repurposed from their original intent to pay for stormwater. As such, we have seen our equipment, staffing levels, and employee package suffer due to lack of funding. The Mayor has committed to making public safety a top priority if general fund dollars can be used for their original intent. This would mean better service delivery for the citizens and a better work environment for firefighters. With that focus in mind, we support this initiative.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighter’s President, Dave Noblitt has been a firefighter in the city for over 20 years. When asked about the current state of the department Noblitt stated that, “Our staffing levels are far from adequate. Historically, we have approximately the same number of firefighters that we did in 2008. However, we run approximately 30,000 more calls a year than we did in 2008. This means that firefighters are attempting to do more with less and that is taxing on our employees. This measure would ensure that the city has the financial capacity to support public safety from falling further behind in its ability to provide adequate response capabilities.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters view this ballot initiative with a linear focus: “What is best for the safety and welfare of the citizens of Colorado Springs and their firefighters?”. Question 2A has a direct impact on how the fire department will continue to operate and as such, the support of this initiative is seemingly what’s best for public safety.
Disclosure: The Indy's owner, John Weiss, is a board member for Together for Colorado Springs, which has also endorsed 2A.
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Monday, October 9, 2017

Stormwater fee's "vote no" committee political operative doesn't live in the city

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 4:36 PM

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When it comes to political campaigns, should someone be allowed to run one or fund one if they don't live in the jurisdiction affected by the campaign?

Laura Carno says yes, and she has and is currently doing so.

Running a campaign, that is.

Carno set up springstaxpayers.com to oppose the city's stormwater fee — measure 2A on the Nov. 7 ballot — which would impose $5-per-month charges on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre per month on owners of nonresidential property. Owners of undeveloped property or nonresidential land over five acres would pay fees based on impervious surface as determined by the city's stormwater manager.

But Carno doesn't live in Colorado Springs. She lives in Black Forest, so she won't be directly affected if the measure passes.

As Rachel Beck, who's running the "vote yes" campaign committee, Invest COS, says via email, Carno "is a voice of dissention [sic] in a matter that has no effect on her. While her anti-everything positions may serve her purposes, Colorado Springs city voters will decide for ourselves what is best for our community."

But Carno, a political strategist who ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011, says she does have a stake in the outcome.

"Even though I don’t live in the city of Colorado Springs, it is where I do all my business," says Carno, reached by phone. That means doing most of her shopping in the city. "Anything that hurts any businesses there, I am a customer."

In addition, Carno defines her campaign as one advocating for good government. Her website says this about the Colorado Springs measure:
Reasons Voters Are Saying NO to Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2A
• The city has record revenues. It can adequately fund stormwater repairs on existing tax dollars
• This is the 6th time in just over 2 years that the Mayor has asked for more money
• Fee starts at $5 per month for residential customers, regardless of the size of the property
• Non-residential customers – including churches and non-profits – pay $30 per acre per month
• Fees can be increased without a vote of the taxpayers
• Owners of undeveloped land are exempt from this fee
• Owners of undeveloped land are among the largest donors to the Yes on 2A effort

"I would say to the other side," Carno says, "they are accepting money from people who don’t live in the city to pay for their mailers. They’re OK with out of town donors."
Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011. - LAURACARNO.COM
  • lauracarno.com
  • Carno ran former Mayor Steve Bach's campaign in 2011.
And so is she, because Carno says everyone has skin in the game to advocate for fiscally responsible government.

Carno, who filed paperwork for her committee on Oct. 6, won't have to disclose the names of her donors until Nov. 3, four days before the Nov. 7 election. But she tells the Indy, "So far, my donors are in the city of Colorado Springs."

To read who's endorsed a "no" vote, go here.

It's true that Invest COS has accepted money from people who don't reside in Colorado Springs. Among those are Spencer Fane LLP, a law firm in Denver, which gave $10,000; K.R. Swerdfeger Construction, Inc., Pueblo West, $5,000; Wagner Construction, Aurora, $1,000; Tyrone Rice, Fountain, $1,000; Colorado Association of Mechanical & Plumbing Contractors, Denver, $5,000; Issues Mobilization Committee, Englewood, $10,000 (this committee can't be found in Colorado Secretary of State Records but shares an address with the Colorado Association of Realtors); Andrew Klein, Glendale, $500; JE Dunn Construction Company, Denver, $1,500; Dan Malinaric, Monument, $500; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm, Denver, $1,000; A-1 Chipseal Co., Denver, $5,000.

Together, that's $40,500, or just under 13 percent of the $320,000 raised so far by Invest COS.

Beck explains, "Our donors, which include residents, businesses, and trade associations, are contributing to a viable solution to a real problem. Included in that group of more than 100 contributors are nine companies or member associations that have significant operations in Colorado Springs and are headquartered in Denver."


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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

D-11 and stormwater issue to be discussed at Oct. 17 forum

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 5:09 PM

City stormwater manager Rich Mulledy stands amid one of the "urban canyons" created by stormwater erosion across the city. This setting is in Pine Creek. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • City stormwater manager Rich Mulledy stands amid one of the "urban canyons" created by stormwater erosion across the city. This setting is in Pine Creek.

Two key ballot measures will be debated on Oct. 17 at a public forum at the MCI/Verizon Building, located at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road. The forum will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Mayor John Suthers will promote the city's proposed stormwater fee. If 2A is approved, it would require every household to pay $5 a month on their water bill to fund stormwater projects, and owners of nonresidential property to pay $30 per acre per month. Property owners of developed land larger than five acres would pay fees set by the city’s stormwater manager, based on impervious surface.

Taking the "vote no" position will be political strategist Laura Carno, who's mounting an opposition effort.

In addition, Lauren Hugg with Friends of D11, will promote the virtues of Colorado Springs School District 11's mill levy override measure, which aims to raise about $42 million in property taxes. The district hasn't had a tax increase since 2000, while districts throughout the metro area — such as Academy District 20, Falcon District 49 and Cheyenne Mountain District 12 — have had several. Who will debate the "anti" position on the D11 measure hasn't been determined.

The forum is being sponsored by the Leadership Pikes Peak Alumni Association, Colorado Springs Rising Professionals, the Independent and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.



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City vehicles are old and need to be replaced

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 9:51 AM

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In the Oct. 4 issue of the Independent, we report the city of Colorado Springs' fleet is aging and needs an infusion of money. That could come if voters approve a stormwater fee on the Nov. 7 ballot, because money now spent on drainage projects — $17 million a year — would then be applied to other city needs, including fleet. The fees would charge all households $5 per month, while most nonresidential property owners would pay $30 per acre.

As we went to press, we heard some of the details of fleet problems from Corey Farkas in Public Works, who writes via email:

• In the last two seasons we have had three plows towed back to the shop, after breaking down on their routes.

• Since January 2016, Public Works Operations and Maintenance conducted welding on 27 pieces of snow and ice control equipment in order to keep these items "mission ready". The cost of this work ... was roughly $11,000 in materials alone...this does not include labor hours.

• In the 2015/2016 snow season, we had 17 trucks go down during one week. With another impending snow event coming, we had 3 days to get as many trucks functional as we could. This puts us in an extremely vulnerable situation.
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In addition, city communications chief Jamie Fabos tells us that the city currently has four hybrid-electric vehicles and "are continuing to investigate additional fuel efficient vehicles that are financially feasible."

Lastly, Ryan Trujillo, sustainability and support services manager, reports that the city has had to replace nine engine and transmissions since 2015. Others needed such treatment, but due to the age and condition of those units, the city opted to dispose of them "instead of throwing good money after bad," he says.

He also says, via email:
I think it’s important to note that while the need for a fleet overhaul is becoming urgent, the city has put off this cost by taking measures to extend its capabilities in the absence of budget availability over the past five-plus years. Through creative measures such as our 5-year fleet replacement strategy, we’ve been able to increase the number of vehicles immediately available without the need for special budget appropriation.

While we are proud of those efforts, and will continue to pursue the most economical options for fleet maintenance, we need to embrace a long-term strategy and the budget numbers I provided you will get us well on our way.
 

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Stormwater issue "vote yes" committee raises over $300K

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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Invest COS, the "vote yes" committee for the city's stormwater fee measure on the Nov. 7 ballot, has raised $311,290 so far, according to the latest campaign finance filed today.

But the committee has spent only $38,446 — mostly reimbursement for individuals' work time on the issue or consultants.

Mayor John Suthers tells the Independent he's been designated the "focal point" of the campaign and cut some radio ads last week that will begin airing soon.

"One of the things polling showed is people were more inclined [to support the measure] if the mayor is in favor of it," he says. He also said polling shows citizen trust in city government is the highest it's been in years.

The latest report shows money coming from developers and related trades and businesses.

Schmidt Construction of Colorado Springs ponied up $25,000, as did the business activist group Colorado Springs Forward.

Giving $10,000 each were Issues Mobilization Committee of Englewood, Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, High Valley Land Co. Inc., and The Broadmoor resort.

The committee hopes to spend about $500,000 on the campaign, and with about five weeks to go, might hit that target.

Meantime, there still appears to be no organized opposition that's filing campaign finance reports on its spending, though anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce has sponsored a "vote no" website.

(Disclosure: Independent chairman and founder John Weiss is helping with the "vote yes" campaign.)




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Colorado Springs 2018 budget proposal: $16.3 million more

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 5:11 PM

Due to rising sales tax collections, the city expects revenues to grow by at least $16.3 million next year over this year.
Mayor John Suthers has proposed a 2018 budget based on an uptick in sales tax revenues. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mayor John Suthers has proposed a 2018 budget based on an uptick in sales tax revenues.

That's prompted Mayor John Suthers to propose a 2018 budget that's that much higher than the current year's budget, or a total of $288.9 million.

The budget is based on the status quo, meaning it presumes the stormwater fee on the Nov. 7 ballot won't pass. If the measure, which would raise $17 million to $20 million a year, does pass, Suthers will submit an amended budget to City Council.

In that case, the budget would include roughly $8 million, because the stormwater fees wouldn't begin until July 1, so only half would be collected the first year. Enactment of the fees would allow the city to use the $17 million a year now pledged to stormwater needs for other purposes, including hiring more cops.

Suthers told the Independent in an interview today that if the fees are approved by voters, he plans to add 23 police officers and eight firefighters to improve response times and cut down on overtime pay.

Here's the city's release about the budget proposal:
Mayor John Suthers presented a balanced 2018 budget to City Council Monday, October 2. The 2018 General Fund budget is $288.9 million, $16.3 million or 6 percent more than the 2017 budget. The increase is largely due to a projected increase in sales and use tax revenue.

Attached is an overview of the budget development process and Suthers’ letter to City Council outlining the allocation of funds in line with the City’s strategic plan goals: Promoting Job Creation, Investing in Infrastructure, Building Community and Collaborative Relationships, and Excelling in City Services.

2018 General Fund Highlights:
· $900,000 in increased funding for park maintenance, recreational and cultural service needs
· $1.2 million in increased funding for city fleet replacement
· $750,000 contribution to the I-25/Cimarron landscaping project (part of city’s obligation for completion of Cimarron/I-25 project).
· $180,000 increased funding to Mountain Metro Transit
· $300,000 to improve the City’s online services relating to permitting, land use and licensing
· $5.5 million to address police and fire compensation issues and civilian compensation issues

The complete proposed 2018 budget is available at: coloradosprings.gov/2018budget

Upcoming Important Budget Dates:
Oct. 16 (all day) – Budget presentations to City Council
Oct. 19 – Public input meeting (5-7:30p)

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Charae McDaniel named city CFO

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:59 PM

COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
The City of Colorado Springs has a new chief financial officer, pending City Council's approval at their Oct. 10 meeting.

A Sept. 28 news release announced that Charae McDaniel, currently the city's budget manager, has been selected.

What does the city's CFO do? According to the release, "The chief financial officer (CFO) reports to the chief of staff/chief administrative officer, and is responsible for all accounting and treasury functions. This position directs the financial functions of the City including budget, fiscal and strategic planning, all aspects of accounting, sales tax collections, parking enterprise, grant management, and investments."

Further, the CFO "directs the development of a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), district and enterprise financial statements, annual budget, strategic plan, and all cost allocations."

McDaniel has been performing some of those duties since April, when former CFO Kara Skinner resigned. As the Indy first reported then, Skinner took a job in the City of Boulder's finance department.

In the release, McDaniel said she's "honored to serve ... our great city."

The Mayor commented on the promotion too, saying, “Charae has worked in City Finance for over a decade, most recently serving in the deputy role. Her abundance of institutional knowledge and experience in effectively managing the City’s budget has prepared her for the CFO role.  The City is very fortunate to retain and promote someone with her background and is confident that this promotion will provide for a seamless transition.” 


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mountain Metro Transit increases service in Academy Boulevard corridor

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 2:21 PM

Mountain Metropolitan Transit is expanding service by making buses on one of its most popular routes make stops every 15 minutes instead of 30.

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The route runs from the Citadel Mall to Voyager Parkway, as shown on the map to the right.

Here's the release:

Beginning Monday October 2 riders will be able to catch a city bus every 15 minutes on North Academy Boulevard. Route 25, which runs between the Citadel Mall and Voyager Parkway, will see increased service from 30 minutes to 15 minutes Monday through Friday. This popular route is one of the top three highest ridership routes in the system. Riders can now travel from the downtown area to the northern-most part of the city using this premium bus service for their entire trip. Other route improvements include adding an additional bus to Routes 10 and 11, which serve southern portions of the city, traveling between the downtown core and Pikes Peak Community College Centennial Campus. The additional bus will improve on-time performance for these two routes.

“We are continuing with our objective of improving our hub-and-spoke system by implementing a series of high-frequency transit routes. We now offer 15 minute bus service along Boulder Street and Platte Avenue and to northern Colorado Springs along Academy Boulevard; 15 minute service to UCCS utilizing Nevada Avenue and Weber Street; and 15 minute bus service to PPCC with Routes 10 and 11 along South Nevada Avenue,” said Craig Blewitt, director, Mountain Metropolitan Transit.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit provides local fixed-route bus service and Metro Mobility ADA paratransit service for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. All buses are wheelchair-lift equipped. Mountain Metropolitan Transit also provides other services such as Metro Rides’ ridesharing, vanpool, and bicycling programs. For added convenience, there are bike racks on all buses for riders who want to utilize the bike-n-bus program. For additional information regarding Mountain Metropolitan Transit please visit www.mmtransit.com, or call (719) 385-RIDE (7433).

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

City grants Nor'Wood ability to impose $325 million in special taxes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 5:48 PM

A rendering of the southwest downtown plan looking east into America the Beautiful Park. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • A rendering of the southwest downtown plan looking east into America the Beautiful Park.
In a historic move, Colorado Springs City Council approved taxing authority for three special districts that will fund development of the southwest downtown to the tune of $325 million — the costliest single move ever in the city's history — despite cautionary comments from some Council members and several citizens.

The developer, Nor'wood Development Group, is the largest in the region and plans multi-story office and residential development in the area immediately surrounding the Olympic Museum at Sierra Madre Street and Vermijo Avenue that's now under construction.

The boundaries for the districts are generally described as Interstate 25 on the west, Colorado Avenue on the north, Cascade Avenue on the east and Cimarron Street on the south.

The idea is to issue bonds and use revenue from taxes imposed by the special districts to repay the debt. Today, the area is home to vacant lots and unused buildings, a lack of infrastructure and very little, if any, commerce and residences.

Chief critics on Council are Bill Murray and Don Knight. Murray questioned approving the debt authority without more details and called it "a blank check," while Knight questioned the size of the authorization but said he was enthusiastic about the plan in general.

The vote was 6 to 1, Murray dissenting, with Councilors Andy Pico and Merv Bennett absent.

One citizen critic was Tim Hoiles, who's family used to own the daily newspaper, which operated under the Hoiles family with the Libertarian philosophy of limited government intrusion and participation in public business.

"I didn’t even hear about this until last week," he said. "Is this the largest ever asked for? Yes, it is. I have three words: accountable, which includes the mayor, Council and staff; piecemeal — roads, utilities, hospital pension account, and precedent. You keep setting it; it’s a bad thing.

"It’s not the Council’s job to give away taxing authority. I disagree with the developers.
I disagree with anyone who says, 'Give us government money to do our jobs.' It’s Nor'wood. This is not the only thing you’re negotiating with them on. They own Banning Lewis Ranch. Are those negotiations complete? You got a stormwater suit. There’s a development cited on Page 22 [of the lawsuit]: First and Main [a Nor'wood development accused of violating the city's drainage requirements]. You’ve got three things going on and you’re trying to piecemeal. Please stop piecemealing."

Banning Lewis Ranch is an 18,000-acre largely undeveloped tract on the city's east side for which Nor'wood is negotiating a new annexation agreement, first approved in 1988, to ease the burden on developer investment. The lawsuit Hoiles mentioned is the EPA lawsuit against the city alleging stormwater/water quality violations.

Another citizen, Don Hargrove, expressed concern that southwest downtown development would add to an ambience of downtown that focuses on bars, restaurants and banks to the exclusion of shops and other attractions; and another citizen asked what's driving demand for such a huge project. "It worries me we're spending much more money than we should."

Go here for more details of the proposal.

But others applauded the project. Susan Edmondson, chief of the Downtown Partnership, says just because Colorado Springs hasn't seen "vertical" special districts, meaning district boundaries will apply to various floors of the high-rise buildings, doesn't mean they don't work.

"This layering helps make this project work," she said. "This is a structure that makes a lot of sense. This is what great cities do to make great cities happen."

Nor'wood will now proceed to an election of board members for the special districts on Nov. 7. The project is considered a 20-year undertaking that also was championed by city planning staff.

"The intent of the redevelopment area is to create a unique vibrant place for resident and visitors and stimulate development and redevelopment throughout the entire city," planning director Peter Wysocki said. "I think it’s important to paint the image and stress the importance of this project."

Council President Richard Skorman argued stridently in favor of the proposal.

"It’s the people who become the business owners or apartment owners who decide to join in, that’s when they’re voting," he says. "If they don’t want to be a part of that business district, they don’t have to be. I joined the downtown business district because it benefits my business.
It’s really growth paying for itself. We don’t want to hurt the flexibility of this because the opportunity for this is just so great."

He noted a project such as this one could lead to passenger rail, more greenway development and jobs. "Why can’t we get an Amazon to come to Colorado Springs? This is an opportunity, and it’s what every other city has done. We’re lagging behind."

City Economic Development Officer Bob Cope said the project will generate millions in tax revenue, add 5,000 jobs and add billions to the city's gross metropolitan product.

Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler noted the authorized debt will fund infrastructure, not another high-rise to be owned by the developer.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Colorado Springs Utilities call for honoring former water chief, Gary Bostrom

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 3:14 PM

Gary Bostrom, pictured in front of the Pueblo Dam, was instrumental in seeing that the Southern Delivery System pipeline project became reality. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Gary Bostrom, pictured in front of the Pueblo Dam, was instrumental in seeing that the Southern Delivery System pipeline project became reality.
The name of the former chief water officer for Colorado Springs Utilities is likely to be affixed to the future reservoir to be built in phase 2 of the Southern Delivery System.

Gary Bostrom, who spent his entire career with Utilities, died unexpectedly on Aug. 28.

The news release about plans to name a reservoir for Bostrom didn't specify which reservoir. The SDS system will have two: the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir at Bradley and Meridian roads, and the Williams Creek Reservoir to the south of that. We'll update when we learn which one has been selected to bear Bostrom's name. The Upper Williams Creek Reservoir is the one proposed to be named for Bostrom.

Here's the release:
Colorado Springs City Council will consider a resolution tomorrow to name a future reservoir for Colorado Springs Utilities’ former water services officer, Gary M. Bostrom, P.E.

Bostrom passed away suddenly Aug. 28, 2017 at age 60. He was a key contributor to water management in Colorado for nearly four decades, retiring from Springs Utilities in 2015.

The water storage reservoir is part of the second phase of the Southern Delivery System, a project that Bostrom helped lead to bring Arkansas River water to Colorado Springs, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West.

Construction of the reservoir is planned within the next five to 10 years approximately 8 miles east and 5 miles south of Colorado Springs, in El Paso County.

SDS began commercial operation in 2016.

“I’m honored to recommend the naming of this reservoir for my friend Gary. His contribution to our community – his hometown —through his passion and expertise for providing safe, reliable, quality water, is unmatched. We owe him much gratitude for sharing his knowledge with us and playing an integral role in planning for the future of water in Colorado Springs and the region,” Springs Utilities’ CEO Jerry Forte said.

Bostrom was highly regarded among community members and his colleagues in water organizations in the Arkansas and Colorado River Basins. He was instrumental in the development of the Arkansas River Exchange Program and the implementation of Springs Utilities’ 1996 Water Resource Plan—a plan that minimized impact on the Arkansas River and balanced various interests in the basin.

He was a Director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and served more than a decade on boards for the Fountain Valley Authority and the Aurora-Colorado Springs Joint Water Authority. He also had many years of service to the Homestake Steering Committee, Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company, the Lake Meredith Reservoir Company and the Lake Henry Reservoir Company.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Suthers says city is its reaching potential in State of the City speech

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 3:29 PM

It was a full house at The Broadmoor today when Mayor John Suthers gave his State of the City address to about 700 people. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • It was a full house at The Broadmoor today when Mayor John Suthers gave his State of the City address to about 700 people.

Things are looking up in Colorado Springs, according to Mayor John Suthers who spoke to 700 people at a luncheon at The Broadmoor today, Sept. 22, hosted by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC.

Suthers opened by recalling that in 2015, he reported the city was in good shape with potential to be in great shape.

Last year, he reported the city had made significant progress from good to great.

But today, he expressed enthusiasm, with one caveat — it's essential for voters to approve the city's proposed stormwater fee on the Nov. 7 ballot.

"As to the state of our city today," he said, "I do not believe I am being overly optimistic, nor am I exaggerating, when I suggest that Colorado Springs, as a result of the public and private investment of its citizens, is beginning to achieve its potential and secure its place among the great cities of America."

Here are a few of the many gains Suthers reported:

• The city's 2C ballot measure approved by voters in 2015 has paved 471 lane miles of roadway.

• Due to local, state and federal investment, the intersection of Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street will be completed in October.

• The city's median age is 34.4 years, almost 10 years younger than the average age of all Coloradans.

• 8,000 jobs have been added per year in the last two years.

• After seeing unemployment soar to 10 percent in 2010, the latest figure is 2.5 percent as of June.

• There are 13,260 job postings with median pay of $69,600.

• The city's real estate market is among the hottest in the nation, with the average price of a home increasing by 17 percent since July 2015, to $323,200.

• Colorado Springs Airport has seen a 30 percent increase in passengers over the last year.

• Tourism is booming, with the lodger's tax revenues up by double digits the last two years.
Suthers later held court with the media following the luncheon.
  • Suthers later held court with the media following the luncheon.
Looking to the future, Suthers noted, "The most immediate issue before the City Council in terms of continued economic expansion is the approval of an amended annexation agreement for Banning Lewis Ranch."

Annexed in 1988, the 20,000-acre ranch has sat mostly idle since that time due to economic factors and onerous requirements of the developer to build infrastructure.

"Over the last 22 years, the city has lost more than 2,700 jobs and $4.5 billion in economic benefit as the inability to develop Banning Lewis has caused development to leap frog the area into the county. Banning Lewis Ranch should be developed in a manner that delivers a great quality of life for its residents and more than pays for itself in terms of city services and public infrastructure."

Read his entire speech here:
Suthers also honored former City Councilor Mary Ellen McNally with the lifetime achievement Spirit of the Springs award. Here's the release:

Mayor John Suthers presented the Spirit of the Springs Lifetime Achievement Award to Mary Ellen McNally after the State of the City address today. A long-time resident of Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA, McNally has impacted the city through her professional and volunteer contributions.

“If you’ve lived here for more than a couple of years and been involved in our community, you’ve undoubtedly heard that name, and been impacted by her many contributions," said Suthers to the crowd of nearly 700 at the State of the City Address.

McNally has volunteered on numerous boards, and has raised funds for multiple local non-profit organizations including School District 11, Cheyenne Village, Citizens Project, the Southern Colorado AIDS Project and many more.

The Spirit of the Springs awards program was created to celebrate the positive achievements of citizens in our great community. The lifetime achievement award has only been presented on three prior occasions to Nancy Lewis, Mayor Harry Hoth and George Fellows. Click here to find out about the Spirit of the Springs program.



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Yolanda Avila's lawsuit against the city has been "resolved"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 10:20 AM

Avila with her service dog, Puma. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Avila with her service dog, Puma.
The lawsuit filed against the city and Qwest Corp. by Yolanda Avila last year, before Avila was elected to a seat on Colorado Springs City Council, has been "resolved," Avila reports.

According to city records, the city and Avila agreed on a stipulation for dismissal, and Avila tells the Independent in a phone interview she was not paid any money by the city. She says the agreement that ended the case contained a "confidentiality clause" that bars her from discussing the matter.

Avila, who is legally blind, was injured when she stepped into an open vault on the sidewalk on Nov. 24, 2014, on the southeast corner of Pikes Peak Avenue and Chelton Road. She suffered a permanent ankle injury, and her medical bills alone totaled $69,670, according to the lawsuit.

The court file doesn't specify whether she settled her case with Qwest.

Avila was elected to a seat on City Council in April to represent District 4, which covers the southeast portion of the city.


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Utilities Board agrees to add more solar after colorful public comment

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 2:58 PM

AMY GRAY
  • Amy Gray
On September 20, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, which has the same members as City Council, heard a proposal to build enough solar panels to produce 70 megawatts of electricity. By the end of the meeting, they decided to go with 100 megawatts instead — enough to power about 28,000 homes for a year.

The new infrastructure will cost $3 million, according to the Gazette, paid for by a rate hike starting in 2019 that'll add an average of 70 cents to monthly residential electric bills. When it's up and running, the percentage of CSU's energy portfolio that comes from renewable sources will have nearly doubled.

Many who showed for public comment urged the board to move more aggressively on renewables and shutter the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant sooner than 2035. Some referenced Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which recently ravaged Florida and Texas, respectively, as examples of a dangerously changing climate caused by fossil fuel emissions. Board member Andy Pico denied that those storms were out of the ordinary and insisted that global warming isn't happening. He and Don Knight opposed the investment in solar. The rest of them were open to continuing discussions about a more sustainable energy future for Colorado Springs, provided it's not too expensive.

The board may have been moved by this, shall we say, unusual, use of the public comment period. Watch below as members of 350.org and COS CAN act out the existential battle between coal and solar. The theatrics start a little more than four minutes into this video.


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