Here’s the text of a memo from Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King to Mayor Steve Bach, after City Council declined, by a 5 to 4 vote, to consider a resolution endorsing the vision and concept of the Bach administration’s City for Champions proposal.
It’s an interesting potpourri of ideas, suggestions, arm-twisting and audacious power plays, followed by the mayor’s responses.
The changes that King suggests to the Regional Tourism Act proposal are not just minor tweaks, but potential project killers. If King had bothered to read the enabling ordinance, he’d know that the state statutes are relatively inflexible, and would not permit such sweeping changes after project submission.
The city would have to withdraw its proposal and re-submit it next year. If that were to happen, it’s hard to imagine that the “Dream Team” of local heavyweights who have brought the proposal this far could be recreated. It’s even less likely that the multi-million-dollar donors who have quietly indicated their support for the existing projects would line up to help fund King’s concepts.
It’s hard to know what he means by “establishing a concept similar to the World Arena project.” As he may know, the principal funder of that structure was El Pomar Foundation, which, along with the Anschutz Foundation, will almost certainly be among the major funders of the proposed U.S. Olympic Museum.
The obvious conclusion: Council President King is so offended at not having been involved in the proposal’s creation (which was well underway before he was elected to City Council) that he’s willing to torpedo it out of sheer pique.
King occupies a significant position, but he’s just one of nine City Council members, elected to office by a tiny fraction of city voters.
In the April election, he won his district seat with a mere 5,737 votes, 39 percent of the 14,719 cast. Two years earlier, Mayor Bach swept into office with 56,656 votes, 57 percent of the 99,000 cast. He’s the mayor – he can claim a mandate.
So here are King’s “suggestions,” with the Mayor’s responses to each one in italics.
“Below are some ideas on ways the Council can work with the Mayor to accomplish things for the City of Colorado Springs.
City of Champions proposal
1. Remove the baseball stadium from the proposal.
2. Eliminate the need to go to the voters for bonding.
3. Change the downtown proposal to an Olympic Village concept with workout areas for athletes to include participation opportunties with athletics and visitors.
4. Establish a concept similar to the World Arena project where there was a partnership created with the citizens of the city to be involved.
5. Fund the program with dollars that are one-time dollars that can come from the general fund and LART.
6. Allow City Council to use, at the most , $50,000 of LART money to come up with a proposal to work in Colorado Springs in full cooperation with the executive branch of Colorado Springs government.
7. Call Governor (John) Hickenlooper and ask the concept to go forward, but with a totally different approach, one that will not require any bonding vote of the citizens.
Mayor’s response: City For Champions – The proposal already with the State OEDIT and EDC is currently under review. The Organizing Committee and I believe this is strongest proposal we can present, and we are united to continue pursuing approval.
Stormwater Solution Financing
1. Have a regional solution that involves Pueblo in the watershed solution.
2. Pay for the improvements from the City of Colorado Springs to establish the elimination of the PILT and replace it with a 3 percent franchisee fee.
3. Take the difference and apply it to the City portion of the stormwater drainage fee and credit it to the city while the Utilities continue to pay it.
4. Pay back the Utilities over a ten year period or at an amount that the city portion will decline as the 3 percent increases to the city.
5. This is a win-win for the City and Utilities as it is a fixed percentage and the PILT is eliminated.
Stormwater Capital Construction and Operation and Maintenance
1. The operation and maintenace will come from City and Utilities and surrounding cities.
2. The city will fund the difference between 3 percent and the current amount, with a credit from Utilities, and the city paying back Utilities over 10 years.
3. Utilities will put up $5 million for its share of stormwater issues, connected with their infrastructure.
4. That will create a balance of over $10 million a year in O and M.
5. Take the amount above and seek to receive grants and one time funding from the various governments in the watershed. Try and raise $50 million over 10 years.
6. Bond the difference up to $20 million a year from all the goverments with an election to do capital construciton by bonding.
Mayor’s response: Storm Water – I’m looking forward to hearing more about your ideas as well as those of other Councilors and the Regional Storm Water Task Force at our Wednesday, October 9, meeting. I’ll also to presenting an approach which will enable COS to collaborate with EPC and outlying municipalities along with solving our other urgent CIP needs, including roads and bridges.
Development at I-25 and South Academy
1. Create an IGA with Fountain to deliver utilites to the site.
2. Market the utility rate at the Fountain utilities price.
3. Rebate the difference to Colorado Springs Utilities and charge a franschee fee for 5 percent for operation and maintenance.
4. Income stream will go to stormwater district and lower CSU payment for O and M. This is estimated to be approximately $1,000,000 dollars income to CSU.
Mayor’s response: South Academy retail project – It is of great concern that you would consider allowing CSU to enable a major retail development adjacent to and outside of COS to circumvent City sales tax. Although CSU may gain a small benefit from additional electrical revenue by providing that service to the project, the City will lose approximately $3 million in sales tax per year. This is a key example of where Council, in its dual role, needs to protect the best interests of the entire City if those outweigh the smaller benefit that might accrue to CSU. I urge you to consider Council’s higher fiduciary duty to the citizens, and to the City, when Council sits as the Board of CSU to consider this issue.