Two years after officials and citizens in the Pikes Peak region began searching for a way to fund drainage projects, a ballot measure is likely to be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The measure would impose fees on all property owners based on impervious surface, with an average of $7.70 per month for the typical residence. The fees, collected on property tax bills, are roughly 80 percent higher than those adopted by the Colorado Springs City Council for the city's Stormwater Enterprise, which started collecting fees in 2007 but was dissolved after voters approved Issue 300 in 2009, which ended the so-called "rain tax."
The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is expected to place the question on the ballot by a vote this month.
Key provisions of the new ballot measure, as outlined by task force member Kevin Walker:
• The Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority (PPRDA) will include Colorado Springs, the county, Manitou Springs, Fountain and Green Mountain Falls — together composing 98 percent of the population of the county. Monument and Palmer Lake opted not to join but can in the future.
• Fees collected will amount to roughly $39 million annually, to be divided between capital construction (55 percent) and maintenance (35 percent). The capital portion will sunset in 20 years. Monthly fees will range from a low of $3.47 for a nonprofit or educational entity with 2,000 square feet or less of impervious surface to $1,667 for a commercial, industrial or government entity with 400,000 square feet or more of impervious surface. Fees are comparable to those collected in other Front Range cities.
The city's Stormwater Enterprise ran into trouble collecting money from the federal government, but Walker says a 2011 law adopted by Congress allows federal agencies to pay fees that are "fair and equitable."
Fees will remain fixed for five years and may be raised by the board annually thereafter by 1 percent, or 50 percent of the amount of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for the Denver-Boulder-Greeley area, whichever is lesser.
• The authority will be administered by an 11-member board made up of elected officials. The Springs mayor will have a seat and five elected officials from within the city would be jointly appointed by the mayor and Springs City Council; El Paso County would have two seats; and there would be one from each of the three other towns.
• Administrative costs will be capped at 1 percent.
• What projects get done, and when, will be based on a master plan to be drafted by the authority. Ten percent of revenues can be spent on flood-control planning and flood-related emergencies.
Read the 21-page proposal, which could still change, at pikespeakstormwater.org.