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Winter Highlights: #5 COS approves stormwater fee, improves funding for public safety needs

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Thanks to recent voter approval, stormwater user fees were adopted to provide a dedicated funding source for vital stormwater projects and programs that directly impact Colorado Springs residents and downstream communities.

This enables the City to meet its commitment to fund stormwater in accordance with its Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Pueblo County. All of the revenues will fund stormwater projects and programs located within the city limits.

The fee, which was approved by voters in the November Special Coordinated Election, will generate approximately $17-20 million annually that will be dedicated solely to the stormwater program.

By creating a dedicated stormwater funding source, the City will maintain sustainable funding to meet its legal and contractual obligations without depleting the City’s general fund, which allows other high-priority needs, like public safety, to be better met.

When the fee goes into effect July 1, 2018, general funds will be freed to hire an additional 20 police officers for the Colorado Springs Police Department, eight firefighters and two fire inspector positions for the Colorado Springs Fire Department in 2018. These new positions are part of a larger plan to add 100-120 police officers to the force incrementally, over the next five years.

 “Thanks to Colorado Springs voter support to invest in public infrastructure, the City can meet its legal obligations for operating a stormwater system. We are committed to managing our stormwater infrastructure in the most effective and cost efficient manner,” said Water Resources Engineering Division Manager Richard Mulledy. “Not only is this a legal requirement, it is an investment in infrastructure for our growing community that will better control flooding, protect our waterways and can provide a valuable amenity to be enjoyed well into the future.”

What the fee covers

The ballot question and ordinance imposing the fees mandates that the fees be used only for the stormwater program: stormwater capital needs, operation and maintenance, Municipal Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit compliance, and compliance with intergovernmental agreements entered into before June 1, 2016. The last item of the ordinance specifically covers stormwater obligations for projects located in Colorado Springs which were agreed to with Pueblo County in order to assure that the City could use its Southern Delivery System pipeline water supply from Pueblo reservoir.

Implementation and oversight

An oversight committee will be appointed to provide advice and recommendations regarding the projects, operations, and expenditures for the stormwater fee to ensure funds are used in accordance with the ordinance imposing the fee. Click here and select the “Ballot Language” tab to view the ordinances.

Background

The City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo County signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement April 28, 2016 committing spending for stormwater infrastructure, maintenance and MS4 permit compliance programs in the amount of $460 million over the next two decades to improve the City’s stormwater system.

The City is legally required to conduct a federal and state mandated stormwater program to comply with the City’s MS4 Permit.  The stormwater program involves meeting capital construction needs such as detention facilities, the maintenance and operation of the stormwater system, and costs of administration and enforcement of the MS4 Permit.

For more information about the stormwater fee, frequently asked questions and map of IGA projects visit: ColoradoSprings.gov/WaterResources.