Mayor's mileage adds up
Mayor Steve Bach has been receiving about $850 a month in mileage expenses for nearly a year now — more than City Councilors' salary — according to documents provided by the mayor's office.
But the big number hasn't drawn much attention until recently, partly because many, including most City Councilors, didn't seem to know about it. It's also partly because the political environment has changed from the early days of Bach's term when Councilors expressed keen interest in cooperating with the mayor's office.
These days, many Councilors say they feel out of the loop, and marginalized by the mayor. Some are frustrated that Bach chastised them as spendthrifts for adding to the budget last year, before he added hundreds of thousands to the budget later in the year for his own items.
Recently, a perturbed Councilor Lisa Czelatdko, from the dais, compared the mayor's mileage payment to Council's pay. Councilors make $6,250 a year. The mayor, paid $96,000 annually, gets an additional subsidy of about $10,200 in mileage.
Earlier in the mayor's term, City Chief of Economic Vitality & Innovation Steve Cox explained that the mayor's mileage is based on his first month of reported mileage. The city, he said, reimburses at the federal level. As of January, that was 55.5 cents a mile. At that rate, the mayor would have to drive over 1,500 miles a month.
Cox noted the mayor was offered a city vehicle for business, but opted to use his car and charge mileage instead. — JAS
Gould gets fourth year
Lt. Gen. Mike Gould will stay for a fourth year as superintendent of the Air Force Academy, the academy confirmed to the Indy on Monday. Superintendents usually are assigned to three-year hitches as a final career move before retirement.
Air Force senior leaders approved an extension for Gould, a 1976 academy grad, until the summer of 2013. He came to the academy on June 9, 2009. — PZ
County rethinks trail plans
Come November, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority hopes voters will approve extending a tax to pay for capital transportation projects over the next 10 years. But what those projects will be remains a mystery. The PPRTA board can't finalize a list until member governments turn in their top projects. El Paso County still is struggling to identify those.
Last week, we reported the county wasn't likely to include stand-alone trail projects in its PPRTA capital list ("Fork in the road," News, April 11). But after hearing objections from trail advocates, county commissioners decided to take a second look at that decision. That means the county's list of projects — originally expected to be done this month — won't be complete until May 1.
Meanwhile, member governments have planned a joint regional meeting for 7 p.m., April 26 in Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., which Commissioner Sallie Clark hopes will bring clarity to the process.
"[List-making] has been kind of done separately among our various groups," she says. "We haven't really invited people to one big meeting."
A PPRTA board meeting scheduled for May 9 could be moved to accommodate City Council, since many of its members will be visiting Portland, Ore., at that time. Thus, a complete list of projects likely won't be available until at least late May. At that point, the public will have a chance to weigh in, then a final list will be formed to draft official ballot language. — JAS
Finley moves to UCCS
Stephannie Finley, former president of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs and Public Policy Division, has been named to an executive post at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Finley will be paid $57,500 as executive director of university advocacy and partnerships within the University Advancement Division, a newly created half-time position, says UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton. Her credentials include a stint as chief of staff for former Colorado lieutenant governor Jane Norton, and chief of staff for a U.S. House member. — PZ
State backs gay marriage
Though Republican delegates booed a representative of the pro-gay-rights organization, the Log Cabin Republicans, at their state assembly this past weekend, the majority of Coloradans are perfectly content with allowing gays to get married.
According to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, 53 percent of voters want gay marriage legalized, with 40 percent responding that they are opposed.
In line with this, Tuesday morning, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved SB-2, the Colorado Civil Union Act. It now moves to the Senate floor. — CH
Prepare to vote
There are some things you ought to know if you plan to vote in the June 26 primary elections. Alissa Vander Veen of the county Clerk and Recorder's Office, confirms the primary will be mail-ballot only, meaning you can return your vote by mail or take it to one of the clerk's four offices.
If you are registered with a party but want to change, you have until May 25. If you aren't affiliated with a party, you can wait until election day to affiliate — but why? Go to govotecolorado.com to quickly update your info or fill out a voter registration form at any clerk's office. — CH
Planning hire has connections
To some, it may appear that the fox has entered the hen house: Mayor Steve Bach has hired Kyle Campbell as interim director of planning. Campbell, immediate past president of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, works for Classic Companies. He has no public-sector experience but has worked 20-plus years in the private sector as a planning and engineering consultant, where he likely would have benefited from looser regulations in the planning department.
Campbell will be paid handsomely for his services — $175 an hour, which works out to $364,000 at full-time. He will not be paid benefits. The previous planning director, Bill Healy, made $137,000 a year.
City Councilor Brandy Williams notes that Campbell, like her, is an engineer bringing expertise to the position. Williams says she found the pay appropriate based on her own experience, and she believes Campbell has what it takes to "empower employees," allowing the department to function more efficiently.
The hire comes from a mayor (and former commercial real estate broker) who would like to see extensive changes in the planning department. Bach says openly that he would like to see the Planning Commission, an appointed board, be the final say on more decisions, relieving City Council of another major function.
In other news, the mayor announced that Helen Migchelbrink of Fort Collins, who has decades of experience, will serve as director of public works/city engineer and be paid $125,000. The mayor also promoted senior traffic engineer Kathleen Krager to transportation manager, with a raise from $98,000 annually to $112,000. — JAS
Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.