2014 Colorado November election: Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority issue to be on ballot, Mayor Bach balks

Pikes Peak with Garden of the Gods in the foreground
Pikes Peak with Garden of the Gods in the foreground

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

El Paso County commissioners Tuesday voted 4-0 to put an issue on November’s ballot that would create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority to pay for storm water control. Voting for the measure were Chairman Dennis Hisey, Amy Lathen, Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton. Commissioner Sallie Clark was absent.

The authority would raise $39.2 million annually to address a $700 million backlog in stormwater projects in the Fountain Creek watershed.

Stormwater control is one of the premises Colorado Springs Utilities used in gaining approval from the Bureau of Reclamation and Pueblo County to build the Southern Delivery System, a pipeline to ship water from Lake Pueblo to El Paso County.

“With this step, the hard part’s over,” Hisey said.

Last week, Colorado Springs City Council approved, on a 7-2 vote, an intergovernmental agreement with El Paso County and other cities in the Fountain Creek drainage.

The next day, Mayor Steve Bach said he opposed the authority. proposals for ways to fund stormwater control within Colorado Springs.

A list of projects, which will be attached to the ballot proposal has yet to be approved, and will probably be in place by the El Paso County commission’s Sept. 2 meeting, Hisey said.

That would give Colorado Springs City Council time to review the list.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Matt Steiner):

The approval is a huge step in “controlling stormwater,” said Commissioner Amy Lathen, who has played a major role in the regional stormwater task force that first met in August 2012. Dave Munger, co-chairman of the task force, was at Tuesday’s meeting and joined a small contingent who let out a smattering of applause after the commission’s vote.

Munger echoed Lathen about the need to solve stormwater issues regionally.

“Everyone, just about everyone, is aware of stormwater and its significance. Everyone agrees that it is a regional problem,” he said, noting that governments working together will create “a synergy that we’ve never realized.”

The decision appeared to be an easy one for the commissioners. But some debate arose after Colorado Springs Deputy City Attorney Tom Florczak gave the commissioners 18 projects the city insists be added to a list attached to the county’s 
resolution.

Florczak said the City Council did not include a project list in its resolution that passed on a 7-2 vote Aug. 12.

“The concern of the administration was that by having the list, it is limited,” Florczak said.

“It boils down to one word, flexibility,” said Steve Gardner, the Colorado Springs director of public works who was with Florczak on Tuesday.

After the City Council’s vote on the PPRDA, Mayor Steve Bach held a news conference announcing that he would not support the stormwater initiative.

More 2014 Colorado November election coverage here.

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