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Stormwater Enterprise will keep equipment while work continues

December 16, 2009

The Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise is going to hang on to its trucks, trailers and other equipment to finish drainage projects under construction, the  city said Wednesday.

The decision angered anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, who headed the campaign this fall to wipe out the enterprise.

The city-owned agency was created by the City Council in 2005 to levy fees for drainage projects. The enterprise owns 39 vehicles, mowers, Bobcats and other pieces of equipment, according to records released by the city government Wednesday.

Bruce, who authored ballot issue 300, said the enterprise should sell them immediately and return the proceeds to property owners. Bruce’s ballot initiative has been subject to varying interpretations, but Bruce maintained it would bring an end to the enterprise.

“End means over, kaput,” he said.

Earlier this month, a majority of council members decided to abolish the enterprise at the end of this year in light of voters’ approval of issue 300 in November.

Initially, five of the nine council members voted to phase out the enterprise over two years, allowing projects under construction to be finished as well as improvements to the Templeton Gap Floodway.

But Councilman Bernie Herpin later changed his mind, and the council voted 5-4 to end the enterprise Dec. 31.
Initially, it was unclear what would happen to the vehicles and equipment owned by the enterprise.
City officials disclosed their position Wednesday.

Stormwater officials have previously estimated the enterprise has a balance of about $13 million. Given that, along with plans to  bill property owners through December, “these vehicles (and equipment) will be used in 2010 during the phase out of the program,” city spokeswoman Mary Scott said in an e-mail in response to a Gazette inquiry last week.

The equipment will be used for maintenance on existing infrastructure and on pending projects and those underway, she said.

“We have not yet identified what will happen with the vehicles (and equipment) in late 2010,” she added.
Bruce was chafed by the news.

“They appear to be blatantly violating the council’s directive to end the program,” he said.

“Do they not understand the meaning of issue 300 and the council vote to end it Dec. 31, this year, 2009?” Bruce asked.

Scott said enterprise officials are following the council’s directive to phase out remaining enterprise work next year.

Scott could not immediately provide the value of the vehicles and equipment. Many are only a few years old.

“They bought all these toys with our money, and I’ve been saying that for three years,” Bruce said. “It’s about (enterprise employees) driving around in shiny new trucks to build their self-esteem. It isn’t about actually solving a drainage problem.”

Bruce said he would wait until after Christmas to reveal his next step.

“I’m going to, in the spirit of the holiday, not address battle conditions until after the year,” he said. “Call me then.”

Call the writer at 476-1623

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