In Keith King’s vision of a city stormwater department there are no employees or desks. There isn’t even a physical office, whiteboards or coffee pot.
It would be a virtual stormwater department, he said.
When City Council sent a letter to Mayor Steve Bach earlier this month outlining its plan for a stormwater department, it had no intention of growing government, said King, council president.
“We are advocating for the creation of a “virtual” department, or more accurately, a stormwater appropriations or dedicated funding source,” King said. The word “virtual” never was used in the council’s letter to the mayor but King said it was what council meant. He issued a follow up statement to clarify.
King was reacting to Bach’s comments at the Oct. 22, City Council meeting when Bach said he does not favor growing government by adding a new city department. Under his stormwater funding plan, the city’s existing public works department would oversee all stormwater projects.
King said council’s motivation for a virtual department is to track all of the money spent every year on projects related to stormwater and drainage issues. It was an idea born from pure frustration over what council members felt was a lack of detail in the city’s budget presentations. The way the department budgets were presented, council counted $150,000 for stormwater projects in the 2014 proposed budget.
But the city’s chief of staff Laura Neumann said the city expects to spend $17.8 million on construction, operations and design of stormwater projects in 2014. Of that, $9 million is in the 2014 proposed budget and $8.8 million was taken from the 2013 reserve fund and has not yet been spent. And, if all goes as planned, the city expects $7.2 million in federal grants for drainage projects putting the total up to $25 million, she said.
Even so, King said he’s not backing off the idea of a stormwater department, which includes taking $2 million from the 2013 reserve fund to start the department. The city needs a dedicated funding source and the council needs to know how much is being spent on stormwater and drainage projects each year and so does Pueblo, he said. Pueblo County Commissioners are particularly interested in knowing how much Colorado Springs is dedicating to stormwater projects, since it was part of their expectation when they signed off on permits for the Southern Delivery System, the 53-mile pipeline projects from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs.
“We need to come up with a way to track expenditures and how much progress we are making,” King said.
Stormwater Task Force public meetings
The stormwater task force, with the City Council and El Paso County Board of Commissioners, will host public meetings to gather citizen feedback on stormwater solutions:
–6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Cheyenne Mountain High School Cafeteria
1200 Cresta Road.
–6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway.