Sweeping savings for city?
Looking to save money, the city has sought information from contractors interested in taking over street-sweeping.
Due last Friday, the responses will help "determine if it might be more cost effective and/or operationally beneficial to outsource these services (or portions thereof)," the city said in the bid announcement.
"We received six responses ranging from letters stating interest to proposals outlining potential services and annual costs," city spokeswoman Kim Melchor says via email. "This is only a request for information and we will review the responses received to evaluate what's available and determine if it's in the City's best interest to move forward."
It's unclear if the city's 12 sweeper operators would lose their jobs.
In 2012 and 2013 combined, street sweeping cost the city more than $1.1 million. The city owns 16 sweepers, nine of them less than 10 years old.
It's not the city's first foray into outsourcing. United Kingdom-based Serco took over fleet maintenance this year under a five-year deal the city says will save about $4 million. About 60 city employees were laid off, freeing the city from continuing retirement benefits of those workers; some have since been hired by Serco. — PZ
Recalls may be smoother
The governor has signed a new law aimed at clearing up confusion in recall elections.
Last year, then-Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and then-Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, became the subjects of the first recalls in state history after helping pass controversial gun-control measures. The recalls were ultimately successful, but the elections were a mess, landing in the courts multiple times as Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempted to apply conflicting laws.
The root of the problem was a 100-year-old recall law that had never been used and was out of step with a major election law that had recently been passed by Democratic lawmakers. Discrepancies in the laws led to confusion and low voter turnout. Senate Bill 158 was aimed at clearing up those discrepancies and ensuring that all voters receive a mail ballot.
The bill was not well-liked by conservative interests, who say it will increase the difficulty of recalling an office-holder. — JAS
Ride-sharing bill passes
Senate Bill 125, the state's effort to regulate peer-to-peer transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, both of which debuted in Colorado Springs in recent weeks, passed a vote of the Senate on April 28.
Assuming Gov. John Hickenlooper signs it, the Transportation Network Company Act would require interested companies to pay the state a $111,250 licensing fee; prohibit people who have pleaded guilty to a felony in the last five years from serving as drivers; and mandate that either the driver or the company provide primary liability insurance for damages up to $1 million. Drivers will be limited to 12 hours of service per day, and may not be hailed from the side of the road like taxis, which are governed by a separate set of licensure requirements.
However, the bill does create a framework for taxi companies to create their own app-driven peer-to-peer companies and enter the new market. — BC
Counselors could be funded
Colorado kids could be getting more help from school counselors thanks to Senate Bill 150, which passed both houses of the state legislature and was sent to the governor Monday.
The bill would double the funding for the School Counselor Corps Grant Program to $10 million and increase the grant cycle from three to four years. The grant is intended to increase the state's graduation rate and the number of students who continue on to post-secondary education. The grants have already been used to hire counselors in Harrison School District 2 and Colorado Springs School District 11, where they've apparently been effective ("More of a good thing," News, March 26).
The bill had a rough ride through the legislature before passing. The final version creates many preferences for schools looking to receive a grant. For instance, schools with a higher-than-average dropout rate and/or remediation rate, poverty rates, percentage of "at-risk" students, and percentage of possible "first-generation college students" will get priority. — JAS