For months now, the Stormwater Task Force has managed to be two things: (1) a group of interested citizens and government workers striving to fully identify the region's stormwater problems and identify a funding solution, and (2) an enduring focal point for angst between El Paso County and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach.
At a July 15 meeting of the Task Force, El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen said Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher had met with her weeks ago and stated unequivocally that the city would not work with the task force. But at the same meeting, task force member John Cassiani said he'd been talking with the executive department of the city and hoped that a meeting would be possible toward the end of the year.
Lathen said she hoped the meeting would happen, though she doubts it will. "The message that you just gave us is very different than the one we were given just a few weeks ago," she told Cassiani.
Given that the area has as much as $906 million in stormwater capital needs, plus an estimated $11.5 million in annual stormwater maintenance needs, the ongoing political squabble is no small problem. The mayor believes that the city should solve its stormwater problems independently, and that the scope of the problems is exaggerated. He's hired Englewood-based firm CH2M HILL to identify the city's most pressing needs. It could report back as early as October.
Meanwhile, the Stormwater Task Force has been moving forward without the help of the city or its staff. At the July 15 meeting, leaders said they hoped to ask voters to fund a stormwater remedy in the fall 2014 election. What voters would be asked to approve is not yet clear — the task force has not decided whether to pursue a tax, or create a special enterprise that would charge a fee.