Colorado Springs voters pass stormwater fee

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Colorado Springs voters passed Ballot Issue 2A, a dedicated stormwater fee. The city says it will generate $17 to $20 million annually for stormwater infrastructure and maintenance.

The fee stems from a lawsuit filed by the EPA, state of Colorado and Pueblo County against the city of Colorado Springs. It alleged the city failed to "adequately fund its stormwater management program," causing problems for cities to the south. In an agreement with Pueblo, the city of Colorado Springs committed to providing at least $17 million in funding every year for stormwater infrastructure improvements to prevent issues downstream.

Mayor John Suthers says the money the city was using under that agreement came out of the city’s general fund. Now, he says the general fund money can be reallocated to hire more police officers and firefighters.

"What this means is we'll be able to take this dedicated revenue stream, deal with our legal problems surrounding stormwater, and we're also going to be able to deal with our public safety staffing issues,” Suthers said.

The mayor called the stormwater issue a public safety issue.

"We desperately need to put over the next several years at least 100-120 police officers on the street. Our response times are deteriorated ... in order to dramatically improve and get to our goal of eight minutes, we're 11 minutes and 38 seconds now. We gotta have a lot more officers on the streets. This is going to allow us to do it,” Suthers said.

The mayor plans on asking Colorado Springs City Council on Thursday to approve an amended budget for next year so the city can start hiring 20 police officers and eight firefighters.

The approved measure means a monthly fee of $5 per residential property and $30 per acre for non-residential properties. The fee will show up on utility bills starting in July 2018.

The city says, properties bigger than 5 acres with significant areas of previous surface will be assessed by the Water Resources Engineering Department.

Election results are unofficial until Nov. 24, the deadline for the county clerk to report the results of the post-election audit to the Secretary of State.