Colorado Springs: Mayor Suthers’ budget calls out stormwater needs

Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain
Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain

From KKTV.com (Alyssa Chin):

Mayor Suthers released his proposed 2016 budget Monday. The big focus will be on storm water. A problem that’s plagued Colorado Springs for years.

“Several years ago, we had a storm water enterprise,” Suthers said. “With the demise of that, defunding of the storm water enterprise, for the most part we’ve been spending minimal amounts [of money] over the last several years in terms of storm water.”

The city is setting aside $16 million, with an additional $3 million from Springs Utilities for a total of $19 million.

That plan had some tax payers wondering why isn’t that money going toward the roads.

“There were times I felt like I was going to get pulled over for swerving so much even though it was just because of the pot holes,” Mackenzie Tennison said.

The mayor said through all their surveys, roads were the top priority for voters so he expects them to pass the proposed tax increase of 0.62 percent in November. That will give the city the money it needs to fix our roads.

“I don’t agree with, you know, us getting taxed more,” Leafner Tan said. “I’m pretty sure there’s enough money there, and I’m pretty sure there’s also money going somewhere we don’t need to spend money on.”

“You cannot do storm water and roads,” Suthers said. “Storm water is within reach because it’s a relatively less amount of money.”

Suthers added, that unlike previous years, he’s been working with city council on this budget and that nothing about it should surprise them.

There will be a meeting at City Hall on October 20 from 5-7:30 p.m.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Billie Stanton Anleu):

The $268.1 million general fund budget is up $9.4 million, or 3.6 percent, but Suthers said that when adjusted for inflation, the city today spends $86 a year less on each resident than it did in 2000…

Suthers’ priority remains the city’s infamously atrocious roads, most of which need overlays or complete reconstruction. But the mayor is banking on passage of a Nov. 3 ballot issue to provide $50 million a year for five years through a 0.62 percent sales tax increase.

The other overriding need is stormwater projects to ameliorate Fountain Creek flooding effects on downstream Pueblo. Past city stormwater funds have been eliminated, and a federal lawsuit has been threatened by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

If the issue isn’t addressed, it also could threaten the 1041 permit Colorado Springs Utilities got for its $829 million Southern Delivery System, soon to pump water from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs, Pueblo West, Fountain and Security.

So Suthers is squeezing $16 million out of the budget, which would be augmented by $3 million from Utilities, for stormwater projects…

In order to make ends meet, staffing requests, raises and capital projects were left unfunded, Suthers said.

Click here to read the Mayor’s news release and letter to City Council — via Pam Zubeck and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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