Apr 17, 2013 8:31 PM by Andy Koen

Mayor wants to dip into saving to cover flood needs

COLORADO SPRINGS - Mayor Steve Bach is asking the Colorado Springs City Council to take $11,875,000 million dollars out of savings. A majority of the money, $10 million worth, is directly tied to flood and fire mitigation efforts.

The rest would be spent on a study to see whether city employees are fairly paid ($1.42 million), to purchase a dozen new motorcycles for the police department ($300,000), and to update the software that council uses to post minutes and agendas for their meeting on the internet ($155,000.)

The single biggest expenditure ($8.8 million) would be spent on a pair of stormwater projects. Both the Douglas Creek Channel and the Camp Creek Channel are badly damaged and would be replaced.

The two drainage systems begin collecting runoff inside the burn area where conditions from the fire are expected to intensify the force and volume of water flow four fold.

"We believe that some of the flood risk and the fire risk associated with our city at this present time is means to addressing that general funds reserve which we have painstakingly been increasing over the past two years," explained Chief of Staff Laura Neumann during the mayor's monthly media briefing Wednesday.

Another $1 million in the request would be directed to the City Forester to help reduce the wildfire risk in our public parks and open spaces.

The mayor appeared hesitant to raid the saving he'd worked to build up over the last two years, but he said all of the projects need the money.

"Reserves are essential, especially in an emergency or a time of great need, and this is one of those times with respect to the Waldo Canyon Fire," Bach said.

The supplemental budget request, coupled with an $8 million payout last week to settle a lawsuit filed against the city transit system, will have reduced the city's unrestricted fund balance (reserves) by $20 million. However, the $34.3 remaining in savings still accounts for about 13 percent of the annual budget.

The mayor is expected to ask council for the money next week, and approval could come as early as the May 14th formal session.


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