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Delinquent stormwater accounts might be headed for tax liens 

Past due

click to enlarge Stormwater manager Rich Mulledy says liens will hit delinquent accounts. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Stormwater manager Rich Mulledy says liens will hit delinquent accounts.

Those who’ve thumbed their noses at Colorado Springs’ bills for stormwater controls could see a tax lien slapped on their property within a month or so.

The list headed for tax lien includes 110 non-residential tracts. No residential billings have yet exceeded the $200 threshold the city set for tax lien procedures.

City stormwater manager Rich Mulledy says he expects several commercial accounts to be made current within weeks, voiding a need to certify tax liens on those.

“It [stormwater bill] just went to the wrong office,” he says. “Some of these companies have offices across the world.”

A tax lien means the bill will be attached to the annual property tax bill for payment to assure the city gets its money.

Mulledy notes the number of delinquent accounts represents less than 1 percent of all billings.

Voters approved imposing stormwater fees in November 2017. The fees — $5 per month on all residential properties and $30 per acre for non-residential properties — became effective July 1, 2018.

In the program’s first year and one month, the city billed $15.2 million, but collected just under $14.6 million.

As of Sept. 17, of the 143,962 residential accounts, 1,086 accounts billed by a contractor were 90 days or more past due, amounting to $61,320 due in total. (Most residential bills are collected by Colorado Springs Utilities, which was paid $1 million to set up collections, and $69,000 a year for that service thereafter. Those collected by a contractor, which is paid $372,000 a year, may include homes that have their own water wells, or condominium complexes with a single meter, Mulledy says.)

Of the 9,730 non-residential accounts, 400 accounts are 90 days or more past due, representing a total due of $161,853.

Total overdue: $223,173.

City Council is expected to approve certifying the tax liens to the El Paso County Treasurer’s Office soon on 110 parcels, on which $78,860 is due.

The gap between total owed and amount headed for tax liens, Mulledy says, stems from the city’s policy to file tax liens on overdue bills of more than $200. Many overdue accounts haven’t reached that level yet, he says.
The biggest overdue account belonged to 3G Ventures II, which drew attention earlier this year for its constant humming noise that drove neighbors crazy and led the city to take readings but not cite the business for violating Colorado Springs’ noise ordinance.

Chelsea Glen neighbors insist the cryptocurrency operation on Garden of the Gods Road exceeds noise limits, especially at night.

Regardless, 3G owed $6,576 in stormwater fees that were 90 days delinquent. When contacted by the Indy, 3G owner John Chen called the delinquency an oversight and said he’d paid it on Sept. 23. Mulledy says Chen did, in fact, pay the bill, either Sept. 23 or 24.

Several other bills total $3,000 to more than $5,000, but Mulledy expects them to become current soon.

It will be the first time the city certified tax liens under the program that started last year. The liens will come with an added filing charge of about $15.

In 2018, the city spent $10 million on stormwater controls and compliance with its federal discharge permit and expects to spend up to $12 million this year.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to include payments made to Colorado Springs Utilities after the $1 million fee to set up collections.

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