Jul 31, 2014 2:07 PM by Kelsey Kennedy

Mayor Bach fires back at critics who say he hasn't been a part of the stormwater solution

Colorado Springs Mayor, Steve Bach, is speaking out after his absence was called in to question at a stormwater task force meeting earlier this week. The task force is working to get a question on November's ballot that would create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority.

Mayor Bach is at odds with members of the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Board of Commissioners over plans to deal with the region's stormwater problem. The mayor fired back to critics who say he hasn't been a part of the solution.

"We just got the latest IGA late last week, and we're told to come to a meeting on Tuesday," Bach said. "That's not very much time to try to get with staff and digest the impact and come back with comments."

Mayor Bach says he had a meeting on Tuesday with an international company with the potential to bring thousands of jobs to the area. He didn't feel he should cancel. Yet the mayor's opinions were heard loud and clear at Tuesday's meeting.

"If you're unwilling to change the governance, then the mayor is not going to support this issue," said Steve Cox, Mayor Bach's Chief of Staff at Tuesday's meeting.

Both commissioners and council members found this frustrating. "The one person who is not here, who could help us figure this out, is the mayor," said Commissioner Sallie Clark on Tuesday.

Members of the task force decided on Tuesday that the PPRDA's Board of Directors should be comprised of elected officials. "What's not negotiable is that the Board of Directors of this authority need to be elected officials so there's accountability to the citizens," said Commissioner Amy Lathen.

Mayor Bach doesn't agree. He wants to appoint two professionals to the 11 member board, and have his appointees approved by city council.

"If we have two people from the outside who are professionals, who have no conflict of interest, who bring expertise that could be really valuable to us, I think that is additive," Bach said.

To the accusation that he's holding up the process, Mayor Bach says he couldn't possibly.

"Only the voters can decide if they want to increase their taxes," he said. "By city charter, only city council can take that to the ballot. The mayor can't stop that."

Mayor Bach sent a letter to city council this afternoon to clarify his recommendations.

"They can choose to do whatever they want," Bach said. "But if they want my support on this intergovernmental agreement, I hope they'll seriously consider my suggestions."

He's optimistic that an agreement can be reached in time to get the issue on the November ballot for voters to decide. City council is set to vote on the agreement on August 12th. Commission will vote on August 26th.

The ballot question will ask voters to create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority with a fee of about eight dollars per month for the average residence.



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