First stormwater bills in mid-February

       Ready or not, bills from the city of Colorado Springs' new Stormwater Enterprise will start trickling into Colorado Springs mailboxes in mid-February.
       The payments from residential, commercial and non-business enterprises will help the city build or repair millions of dollars worth of structures - including several new ones on the Westside - to prevent flooding after rain or snowstorms.
       Mesa Springs Community Association residents listened to a presentation on the subject from City Stormwater Engineering Manager Kenneth Sampley Jan. 9. Until City Council finalized the enterprise and its fee structure in November, the city had gone for years with a “woefully underfunded” stormwater budget, he said.
       In the case of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA), approved by voters in 2004, “people can see the need when they're waiting for stoplights,” Sampley said. “But stormwater, you can't always see it.”
       The quarterly Stormwater Enterprise bills will be separate from those sent out monthly by Springs Utilities, which is a separate city enterprise, he explained.
       People's stormwater payments will be based on how much “impervious surface” is on their properties - the more chance for run-off (such as with a paved driveway or parking lot), the higher the bill.
       For home-owners, he said 60 to 70 percent of the rate-payers will fall into the lower two tiers of the Single Family Residential rate structure in which impervious areas take up more than 60 percent of the property. ($2.95 or $4.90 a month).
       The other two rate structures are the Commercial, Industrial, Government structure and the Non Profit/ Public Educational structure.
       Each one increases in tiers to a point where the bill amount tops out, no matter how big the impervious surface. For single-family, that's $13.65 a month. For commercial, it's $920. For non-profit, it's $172.50.
       The new construction on the list includes 24 projects, with a total cost of $66 million, that are identified as “critical.”
       The Westside is near to the highest-priority project on that list - a three-year, $6 million upgrade of Fountain Creek from its confluence with Monument Creek to the southerly city limit. Work on this project is scheduled to start this year, although Sampley said most of the 2007 new-construction effort will involve creating designs rather than construction.
       However, he did note that many previously identified maintenance needs around the city will be addressed this year, using $4 million budgeted for such work from the enterprise, plus $3 million from the city (equal to the past annual amount from that source). “You will see people out in channels doing repairs in the spring and fall,” Sampley said. “Our intent is to improve our maintenance, which will extend the design life of the structures over time.”
       In response to Mesa Springs residents' questions, Sampley noted the following:
  • The decisions on individual properties' impervious-surface percentages were made through a combination of aerial photography and global positioning system research.
  • People wanting to contest their bills can call the the enterprise phone number: 385-5913.
  • New development is not getting a better deal than the older neighborhoods. In fact they're “paying twice,” Sampley said, because new subdivisions are already required to pay fees for their own storm systems; now those residents will pay citywide fees too.
           The following is a list of Westside projects on the critical list, preced dc by their ranking, followed by budgeted amounts and expected project years:
           9 and 10: 31st Street drainageway (Camp Creek ditch in Pleasant Valley), $11.75 million, 2009-2011.
           13: 8th and 21st Street bridge replacements over Fountain Creek, $12 million, no date set.
           19: 19th Street detention pond outfall structure, $500,000, no date set.
           21: King Street detention pond, $350,000, no date set.

    Westside Pioneer article