At the Formal City Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 25th, Mayor Steve Bach addressed Colorado Springs City Council. Topics included: Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) funding and Colorado Springs Utilities ownership, operations and governance.
Mayor Bach began with an update on the CDOT funding shortfall that he first mentioned at the most recent Mayor’s Counsel meeting. Contrary to earlier information that indicated a 151 million dollar shortfall, there is, in fact, a 188 million dollar shortfall. This is approximately 30 million dollars a year over the last six years based on a written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). ”According to the MOU, our region should be receiving 9.49% of CDOT funds per year. It has actually been receiving only a little over 4%- this shortfall is shocking.” said Mayor Bach. He continued, “If we had received our proper level of CDOT funding over the last six years, the City could have already completed the Cimarron and I-25 interchange, the Fillmore and I-25 interchange, the Powers and Stewart Road intersection, and the Powers and Old Ranch Road intersection, where there have been fatalities.”
On Monday, September 17th, the Mayor went with members of the Pikes Peak Region Mayors Caucus to Denver to discuss this issue with CDOT Director Don Hunt. CDOT is considering not renewing the MOU when it expires in June of 2013 and would like to transition to a Resource Allocation system rather than a Percentage Allocation system. This substantial shortfall in funding is of great concern to the Mayor and he requested that the three Councilmembers (Scott Hente, Brandy Williams, and Lisa Czelatdko) who sit on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Board, redouble their leadership efforts to protect our regional transportation funding interests.
The Mayor will be hearing back from CDOT Director Don Hunt in mid-December on whether or not CDOT will be able to provide some one time funding to use for the I-25 and Cimarron interchange. Once the Mayor hears from CDOT, he will make a report to Council.
Mayor Bach also spoke to Council about Colorado Springs Utilities. The Mayor referenced a Saturday, September 22nd Gazette article which quoted Council President Scott Hente, in effect, saying that the Mayor should not be involved in Colorado Springs Utilities issues. In a respectful manner, the Mayor pointed out to Council that many aspects of the City Charter show that the Mayor does have standing when it comes to commenting on matters associated with Colorado Springs Utilities.
The Mayor cited City Charter Section 4-10, “The Mayor shall execute all contracts and see that all contracts and agreements with the City are faithfully kept and fully performed.” This section allows the Mayor to comment on the Neumann Systems contract. The Mayor also quoted City Charter Section 4-40G, “The Mayor shall see that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the City or its inhabitants in any contract or franchise are faithfully kept and performed, and upon knowledge of any violation thereof to report the same to the City Attorney, who is hereby required to take such proceedings as may be necessary to enforce the same.”
Mayor Bach moved on to the broader Charter justifications for speaking to Council on various issues. City Charter Section 4-40H, “The Mayor shall have the right to attend and be heard at any meeting of Council and may recommend to the Council for adoption such measures as the Mayor deems necessary or expedient.” Furthermore, City Charter Section 4-40J states, “The Mayor shall serve as an ex officio and non-voting member of the Board of Directors for Utilities” meaning that he is able to give advice and counsel to City Council on matters relating to Colorado Springs Utilities. City Charter Section 6-40J, “City Council shall serve as the Board of Directors for Utilities, and the Mayor shall serve as an ex officio and non-voting member thereof” reinforces the same point.
The Mayor has not attended Utilities Board meetings because he has not wished to interfere in Council operations. However, enough questions have arisen regarding Colorado Springs Utilities over the last few months (Martin Drake Power Plant, Neumann Systems contract, governance, and operations) that the Mayor felt it necessary and important to weigh in.
The Mayor concluded by thanking Council for the opportunity to speak and he respectfully asked again that City Council direct Colorado Springs Utilities to contribute to the Stormwater needs in our community. And, to do so in their current budget cycle, within their currently approved rate structure i.e. without any rate increases to the public. Secondly, he asked that they reconsider their decision, made serving as the Utilities Board, to have the in-house Utilities Policy Advisory Committee manage a study of Colorado Springs Utilities practices. Rather, the Mayor recommended, they act as City Council, alongside community leadership, to retain an expert, nationally recognized, and independent firm to advise the Council, Mayor, and community on ownership, governance, and operations of Colorado Springs Utilities.
To view Mayor Bach’s comments, please go to http://www.springsgov.com/instantitems/formal/ and click on the button labeled “Mayor’s Communication”.