Colorado Springs mayor opposes stormwater plan

Steve Bach also criticizes city council, El Paso County commissioners

Colorado Springs Mayor Opposes Stormwater Plan

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A day after the Colorado Springs City Council voted to form a regional task force to address stormwater issues, Mayor Steve Bach said he wouldn't support it.

Bach made strong remarks on the subject Tuesday at the start of his monthly media briefing.

The mayor said he's concerned that the city will be unable to handle emergency stormwater needs -- such as those arising from heavy rain last fall -- under a task force consisting of members from the city, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Green Mountain Falls and El Paso County. 

"We've done a good job handling our own needs and we want to be able to continue doing that," he said.

Bach also is against a proposal to charge taxpayers a monthly fee of about $7.70 to pay for a $706 million backlog of drainage projects.

"That would (be) a new tax -- which has been called a fee," he said.  "It's a tax, except you won't be able to deduct that on your tax return the way it's positioned."

The city assessed a previous fee several years ago that was ultimately rejected by voters.

Bach went further, criticizing the City Council for supporting the stormwater proposal.

"I've seen enough evidence to give me cause for concern as to whether or not our own City Council will consistently represent the best interests of the citizens of Colorado Springs," he said.

The mayor said the Council's lack of action in obtaining millions in infrastructure money from the state and from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, supports his criticism.

Taking issue with Bach's remarks was Councilman Joel Miller, who attended the briefing with two fellow Council members and a county commissioner.

"(The relationship between the Council and the mayor) really isn't getting better," Miller said after the briefing.  "To say there's collaboration and cooperation is absurd.  The purse strings are entrusted to City Council.  But (Bach) is frustrated with that because he'd like to have control over all the funding.  That's just not how it works."

Commissioner Amy Lathen also disagreed with Bach's remarks, calling them "unfortunate."  She said voters will decide in November whether to support the proposed fee.

"At the end of the day, we trust the people to look at the information and make a decision.  We'll simply do everything we can to get the right information out there about this, and answer all their questions."

Council members and commissioners said Bach is welcome to offer his own stormwater plan if he doesn't like the current proposed plan.

In another matter, Bach discussed the progress on pothole repairs by city workers and a private contractor, using $2 million in a special appropriation from the Council.

Bach said the pothole work isn't enough to meet the city's overall need and could even affect the local economy.

"I talk to employers," he said.  "I'm going out to see an employer this afternoon (who's) upset about our streets.  A major employer.  I'm going to have to try to explain what we're hoping to try to do."

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