COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A proposed stormwater fee being finalized for the November ballot could have you paying more on your utility bill, even if you don’t use more water or electricity.
The fee was abolished by the city in 2009, but Mayor John Suthers says it’s time to bring it back.
“If we don’t approve this, people have to understand we will not be able to sustain adequate levels of police and fire staffing and compensation,” said Mayor Suthers.
Colorado Springs City Council member Andy Pico says the proposal is being rushed and doesn’t agree with how Mayor Suthers plans to pay for the city’s needs.
“What he wants to do is valid, but I do not believe this an appropriate way to fund it and if we really have a shortfall in that, then we need to go back to taxpayers and tell them what it is and be a little bit more direct,” said Pico.
Right now as written, the proposal would charge every home $5 a month and businesses $30 per acre each month. According to the proposal, businesses would be billed through the city and homes through Colorado Springs Utilities.
“You put a flat fee out there, it’s very simple but it also hits the low-income people exactly the same as someone at the high-end of the spectrum,” said Pico.
According to Mayor Suthers, one of the reasons the fee was abolished in 2009 was because of billing concerns.
“I think most people think that’s very important, ‘I don’t want a separate bill for stormwater,’ and that flat fee is the only way to avoid that,” said Mayor Suthers.
Mayor Suthers says without a stormwater fee, the city is sacrificing $20 million a year from our its own general fund, which drastically affects police and fire departments.
“It impacts our response time to critical incidents, we’d like have about an 8-minute average response time and unfortunately right now, our average response time is 12 minutes,” said Mayor Suthers.
If passed, the fee would start July 2018 and last for 20 years, raising $17 million every year.
According to Mayor Suthers, the money collected from the fee would go toward completing 71 infrastructure projects the city has already agreed to.