Debate Over Pothole Repair Funds

Members of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority say Mayor Steve Bach's recent request for $2 million in emergency fund to repair potholes across the city is not necessary.

The group says there's $5,091,000 available for the city to spend, that's carryover from last year.

A public meeting was held Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue.

A city official who declined to be interviewed made a presentation at the meeting and said that $5 million aren't just sitting there unused.

She said the city has several transportation plans for the money. The board at PPRTA said that's not how it works.

The citizens advisory committee for PPRTA tells 11 News that before the city can use those funds set aside for them, they need to give specific contracts and invoices for each of the plants. That is the way they budget the funds.

They say as of March 31st, millions of dollars are still available.

"We're not sure why there's a debate over the $5.1 million. The numbers are what the numbers are. We have $5.1 million that we can't tie to invoices for work done in 2013, it's as simple as that," said Robert MacDonald, the PPRTA Board Secretary.

The city's presenter said they do have projects that are going on right now, including a $1.37 million bridge repair project, that plans to use those funds, but aren't ready to be invoiced yet.

Some members of PPRTA's Citizen Advisory Board say they they hope that PPRTA works with the city to get a clear idea of how much money is actually available.

"Until a contract comes to us, we can't encumber [the funds], that's what we deal off of and that's what our budget's off of, so I don't think the questions were answered today," said Tom Harold, chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

A final audit of PPRTA's budget will determine the exact amount available for the city. That is scheduled for end of April.

Previous Coverage:
Tuesday night the mayor of Colorado Springs said he is dropping the "emergency" status of his request for money to fill potholes.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach wants to ask the city council for $2 million from the general fund to fix them, but the council has said the money is already in the bank.

The problem is the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) said they have nearly $5 million carryover from last year. They said it’s currently sitting in the bank and it's not being used. They told us that money could easily be used to fix the pothole problem.

Colorado Springs Deputy Chief of Staff Bret Waters said that money has already been allocated to current projects. We talked to him before Mayor Bach made the decision to withdrawal the “emergency” status of his request.

"With millions of dollars of projects in process at work, at the end of the process which is fairly common we give this invoice to the PPRTA. So clearly there's work already being done with those funds it's just simply not represented in the end result of the project," Waters said.

Springs City Council President Keith King said he's asked the city for those invoices from last year, but still hasn't seen anything to show the PPRTA funds aren't available.

King told us the amount the mayor is asking for is enough to fill 5,400 potholes--large potholes measuring 10 feet by 10 feet, and 6 inches deep.

"I asked (Waters) to identify where the potholes are. Could you give me a list of even 1,000 of them, or 2,000 of them, or 3,000 of them because if we need this money right away, I'd like to know that [the city and mayor have] identified them so we can go to work and do it," King said prior to the mayor’s announcement.

The issue will be on the City Council agenda next week. We'll be there and pass on whatever decision is made about getting those potholes fixed.

The PPRTA will be holding a public meeting at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon. Part of what they'll discuss is the carryover money and how that money can be used for potholes.

People we talked to just want to see the potholes fixed. One driver suggested to us raising taxes, but the problem isn't the lack of money, but where the money will come from.

"The potholes are really tough right now...[an] experience a couple years ago...actually blew out two tires on the pothole on Academy, had to swerve off the road, is horrible," one driver told us.
Previous Coverage:

The Colorado Springs Streets Division is asking the city council for $2 million in emergency funds to repair pot holes throughout the city.

The Streets Division says the department it is struggling to keep up with all the repairs that need to be done. Ten percent of the city's roads need to be resurfaced each year, but only 2 percent reportedly receive the necessary repairs.

The shortfall has resulted in a growing number of roads that need work, to the point that a whopping 49 percent now need repairs, according to the Streets Division.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach says the emergency money is only a temporary fix, but the best solution for now. The money would come from emergency funds the city has saved up, and would not result in a tax increase.

The council will vote on the request next month.

Crews have been hard at work filling potholes. So far they have filled 8,000.