Council gets new member
A retired colonel was appointed to City Council Monday after he said stormwater infrastructure is a top priority and vowed to collaborate with neighborhoods.
Larry Bagley, 71, who's lived here since 1992, served 26 years in the Air Force and worked for 15 as a government contractor. Bagley is active in the Council of Neighborhood Organizations. He said in written comments to Council that tourism venture City for Champions would have "a positive impact" on the economy but he's "least enthusiastic" about a downtown stadium.
Bagley was named to replace Joel Miller, who resigned last month to run for mayor. He'll serve until voters elect a replacement in April. — PZ
Bach says he's done
Mayor Steve Bach won't seek a second term, he announced Monday, without giving a reason for his decision.
A news release noted Bach has led "numerous initiatives to improve Colorado Springs," though it did not detail them. He ran into PR trouble by giving out about $1.66 million in severance pay to employees he wanted to get rid of, including former City Attorney Patricia Kelly and his hand-picked lawyer, Chris Melcher. Chief of Staff Steve Cox, collected nearly $100,000 in severance pay when he stepped down in summer 2012, only to return later at a salary pushing $200,000 a year.
At the same time, Bach's proposal to issue bonds without raising taxes to fund about $145 million in road, flood control and parks projects appears headed for the scrap heap, with the Gazette reporting several City Council members don't support putting it on the April 7, 2015, ballot. — PZ
Petition effort bagged
Saying she had collected about half the signatures required, Anita Miller announced over the weekend via email she had ended her effort to place an initiative on the April 7 city election ballot regarding a city stadium.
Up to 100 volunteers had been circulating petitions since early October for a measure that would require voters to approve spending city money to build a stadium. Deadline for gathering 14,482 signatures was Jan. 7.
The measure grew from concerns over use of city money to build a downtown stadium and events center as part of the City for Champions. The $92.7 million stadium — $200 million if interest is added — would require significant public funding, and Miller, wife of former City Councilor Joel Miller, wanted to ensure voters had a say. A mechanism called tax increment financing, which could use sales and property tax revenue without a vote of the people, has been identified as a likely method for funding the stadium.
"From reports I gathered from neighborhoods as diverse as Rockrimmon, Briargate, Old Farm and the Old North End," Miller writes in an email, "more than 90% of the people we asked to sign the petition did so. The problem is we simply couldn't reach the necessary number of people in the allotted time, especially given timing obstacles we had to contend with, like the November elections, winter weather and the holiday season."
City Council will consider two similar measures in January. One, proposed by Joel Miller before he resigned, is a duplicate of the initiated measure. The other is proposed by Council President Keith King and would allow use of city property tax money, as well as other city funding, such as parking revenues, for a C4C stadium specifically, without a vote of the people. — PZ
Museum gets $15M boost
Two donors have committed $15 million to the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame project, which will be built at Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street southwest of downtown. Museum spokeswoman Kristen Downs says via email that details of the two gifts — one for $10 million and another for $5 million — will be released next year.
The two commitments follow announcements this fall that Nor'wood Development Group would donate 1.7 acres for the project, and that El Pomar Foundation would commit $10 million.
The $60 million project also is to receive about $27 million in state sales tax increment financing over 30 years. Museum backers say they want to have $50 million before starting construction, which is to be finished in time to open the museum before the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. — PZ