From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
New polling shows voter support for a stormwater fee in El Paso County, and even more as voters become educated about the need. The fee is important to Pueblo County because it could raise $1 billion over the next 20 years to reduce the impacts of floods on Fountain Creek. Last November, 50 percent in El Paso County opposed the fee, while 44 percent were in favor. In March, 53 percent favored the fee, with only 35 percent opposed, said Dave Munger, co-chairman of a citizens task force on stormwater control.
“We’re very encouraged by that, especially because we have not gotten an educational program going,” Munger told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District Friday.
The polling showed that by building certain provisions into the proposal, support could increase to more than 60 percent as the task force moves to convince El Paso County commissioners to put a stormwater proposal on the November ballot.
If the average homeowner paid $9 per month, the fee would raise $50 million per year in the Pikes Peak region. That’s three times the amount generated by a stormwater fee sunk by the Colorado Springs City Council in 2009.
That money would address projects envisioned in earlier stormwater studies as well as new concerns caused by the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, Munger said.
The proposal would limit the administrative fee to just 1 percent — about $500,000 per year. It also would return the money to communities proportionately and include a 20-year sunset period for capital projects. A 13-member board weighted toward Colorado Springs would develop a master plan that would prioritize projects.
While the money would be redistributed on a pro rata basis, it still could be used for retention ponds or dams as envisioned by the Fountain Creek board.
“This will make El Paso County’s stormwater control efforts greater than it has ever been before,” Munger said.
Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart asked Munger to explain why the Fountain Creek district could not administer the plan.
“What I would like to know is if you see a role for the district,” Hart said. “A lot has gone into forming this district, including trying to navigate the politics and differences between the two counties.”
Munger replied that the proposal is built on agreements that would be signed by Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Fountain, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Monument and Palmer Lake.
“We’re focused on getting voter approval,” he said.
Once the stormwater authority is formed, it could contract with the Fountain Creek district for projects. It might also accept new members, including Pueblo County, city of Pueblo and Teller County areas within the watershed.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t take advantage of this structure,” Munger said.
Recent estimates show a backlog of $740 million in El Paso County stormwater projects, but more could develop. At the end of 20 years, voters could be asked to renew the fee, Munger said.
More stormwater coverage here.