Colorado

Jun 10, 2014 12:33 AM by Maddie Garrett

Opposing Ideas on How to Pay for Stormwater Repairs

There's no doubt that stormwater is a problem in the Pikes Peak region, every time it rains we keep a watchful eye on the creeks and drainage systems in our area.

But fixing this system that is the Fountain Creek Watershed doesn't come cheap, and there are two opposing ideas on how to do it. This means you could get hit with a new tax or fee.

After two years, the Pikes Peak Stormwater Task Force believes it has a plan that it says is popular with the public and will fix the stormwater problem.

"A fee will allow us to put a more equitable charge on all sorts of entities, from non-profits, to commercial businesses, to residents to government," explained Dave Munger, Citizen's Stormwater Task Force Co-Chair.

The fee would be county wide and likely cost households about $10 a month or less. There would be different rates set for those other entities, and some on Colorado Springs City Council want to make sure there's a cap on how much those rates could increase a year.

"These percentages between these five groups need to be spelled out," said Council President Keith King.

This plan could generate $50-million a year, providing for new culverts, drainage systems, bridges and improved creek system in the region.

"The watershed of Fountain Creek and Monument Creek, that all has to be dealt with as a whole," said Munger.

But in a plan being proposed by Mayor Steve Bach's office, stormwater would only be dealt with in the City of Colorado Springs. That idea isn't very popular with most council members.

"That's why we're supporting the regional approach," said King.

The Mayor's plan ties in stormwater with other infrastructure and capital improvements projects, describing it as a "one-step holistic approach."

"Our infrastructure is getting older and we need to deal with the issue," replied the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Steve Cox.

Cox said it's not just stormwater that needs fixing, but crumbling roads and aging public buildings, all in a $1.3 billion dollar backlog of capital improvement projects. The administrations proposal is to tackle all of those issues with one measure, with stormwater getting an estimated $25.5 million a year.

"Given the current resources we're not going to be able to address our capital improvement needs," said Cox.

So how would the city eventually pay for the $1.3 billion in capital improvement projects? Cox said there are a lot of options, he presented three of them at Monday's council meeting: issuing a 20 year bond measure, a one cent sales tax or a three-quarters cent sales tax.

But the Mayor's plan doesn't have a timeline on when these issues would go out for public input or be voted on. Cox said the one-step plan wouldn't address stormwater as quickly as the Task Force's plan.

The Task Force is working to get its stormwater fee on the ballot this November. It has a deadline of July 25, 2014, to finalize the ballot language. In the meantime, a board of elected officials from all of the seven governmental entities in El Paso County needs to be formed.

If you'd like to weigh in, the Stormwater Task Force will be holding more public input meetings in the future, go to their website: http://www.pikespeakstormwater.org/

 

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