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Colorado Springs firefighters support stormwater ballot issue

Voters to decide on stormwater fee next month

CSFD joins CSPD in endorsing proposed stormwater fee

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A ballot issue next month intended to provide more money for stormwater projects in Colorado Springs is being endorsed by the union representing the city's firefighters.

Brian Kurtz, of Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5, released a statement Wednesday declaring support of Question 2A on the upcoming Election Day ballot.

The union said it backs the question, introduced by Mayor John Suthers, which asks voters to approve paying a special monthly fee to finance necessary stormwater projects.

Suthers said fee revenue would allow the city to stop using budget money to pay for stormwater projects, and instead use the money to hire more police officers and firefighters, as well as provide raises and equipment for that personnel.

"If the question passes, we'd have the money to hire 20 police officers and eight firefighters next year," he said.  "Both departments have been understaffed for a long time.  We need to improve police response times, and have enough personnel to staff new fire stations in our growing city."

A previous fee was rescinded in 2009 after strong public criticism.

Former El Paso County Commissioner and state lawmaker Douglas Bruce, who was a key figure in ending that fee, is organizing opposition to the November ballot question.

"Why wouldn't (firefighters) support it?" Bruce said.  "It's just government employees giving themselves more money.  This issue is voter fraud because it actually doesn't provide any extra money for stormwater."

Despite 10 years of controversy and debate about the stormwater issue, many voters still aren't knowledgeable about it and are unsure how they'll vote.

"I won't vote for it because it combines firefighters and police officers as benefactors," said a man who asked to remain anonymous.  "I'm all in favor of hiring more firefighters but I don't think we need more police officers."

Adrian Brown said she won't let support from the fire and police unions influence her vote.

"I'm in favor of the fee if they will do what they say they're going to do with the money," she said.

Sean Kolman agrees.

"Give them what they need," he said.  "They deserve it.  And eventually it'll make all of us safer."

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