No More Street Light Fee

By: Katherine Cook
By: Katherine Cook

Your Colorado Springs Utility bills are about to go down by about $2.00 a month, but it's why customers were being charged in the first place that's making some people angry. 3 years ago, the former City Council thought charging customers for the city's street lights would be a good way to save the city some money. However, the current City Council didn't agree and made a campaign promise to change it, yet 5 months into office the fee was in place. That's when El Paso County Commissioner Douglas Bruce decided to take matters into his own hands.
"They had 5 months to keep their campaign promise," said Bruce. "When it was clear they wouldn't keep it, I filed the lawsuit."
But say City Council members, that lawsuit is what prevented them from removing the city's street light fee from customer's utility bills until Tuesday. The vote came after nearly 3 years of litigation during which city officials, including Mayor Lionel Riveral, say their hands were tied from removing the fee.
"We would have been able to remove it (the street light fee) from the utility bills a lot sooner if Mr. Bruce had not sued," said Rivera.
Now that the fee will be charged to the city's general fund, some customers wonder about the about money they were charged--about $1.85-- every month for 3 years. Some say they would like a refund, but City Council Member Jerry Heimlicher says that can't happen.
"There isn't any money to refund," said Heimlicher. "The money was spent paying for streetlights, electricity, and expansion for more street lights."
At a total of about 11 million dollars. Bruce says just because the utility bills are changing now doesn't make up for those 3 years, but other customers say they're simply satisfied the fee won't show up on their utility bills after July.


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