Is the purpose of Ballot Question 2A to fund the city's stormwater program or to provide an annual windfall for the mayor and Council to use however they wish?
The city is obligated by the Southern Delivery System Intergovernmental Agreement to spend $460 million on the city's stormwater program through 2035. Council agreed to use about $18 million a year from the general fund to help satisfy this obligation. But in August the mayor said he wanted to use those stormwater funds to pay for more police and firemen and raise their pay, replace the city's "aged out" vehicles, improve parks and do some other things. He doesn't want to ask the voters to approve an increase in sales or property taxes to fund them. So the plan is to establish a service fee on some property owners and manage the fee through the Stormwater Enterprise, which citizens grew to hate after its founding in 2005.
Public schools and nonprofits don't pay property taxes, but owners of vacant land do. The mayor is reversing this by requiring public schools and nonprofits to pay the fee, but exempting owners of vacant land. Why would he make our school districts pay a stormwater fee when they are all underfunded? District 11 is not only hurting for funds, but screaming. Why would he want to reduce the services provided by nonprofits such as Marion House and Springs Rescue Mission by making them pay the fee?
I am proud of the three Council members who identified the many problems with this proposal and refused to support the resolution. On Nov. 7, I am confident that I will be joining councilors Murray, Knight and Pico when I vote no on 2A.
— Vince Rusinak, Colorado Springs
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