Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Bach still seeking $2 million for pothole repairs

photo - Colorado Springs mayor Steve Bach will still make an emergency appropriations request for pothole repair.  (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) + caption
Colorado Springs mayor Steve Bach will still make an emergency appropriations request for pothole repair. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)
By Monica Mendoza Updated: March 28, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Mayor Steve Bach still intends to ask City Council in April for $2 million in emergency money to fill potholes.

City spokesman John Martin said the city does not have a cache of unused money from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, as was suggested earlier this week by two city council members.

There was more than $4 million in PPRTA maintenance money carried over from the 2013 budget. But that money already has been spent or will be in 2014 for projects including bridge repair, streets concrete, safety and traffic operations and road maintenance, city officials said.

"We still fully intend to move forward with the emergency appropriations request of $2 million for pothole repair," Martin said. "That is still very much the plan."

Bach announced his intention to seek emergency funds at his monthly press conference March 25. The city's reserve fund is about $49 million. Last year, the City Council approved taking $8.8 million from the reserve fund to pay for flood mitigation in the Waldo Canyon fire area.

Bach said he does not want to take money from reserves. However, he believes the potholes and crumbling streets are an emergency. He said the $2 million would allow the city to contract a private firm to work alongside city crews through the summer. It would be about a two-year fix, he said.

But council member Joel Miller, who also is the vice chairman of the PPRTA board, said there is no need to take the city's emergency funds.

"I did some checking and found that Colorado Springs has about $4.4 million of unused PPRTA maintenance funds from 2013 that are projected to be rolled over into this year's budget," Miller said in a March 26 press release. "The PPRTA funding is immediately available for contracting by the city through the PPRTA Citizen Advisory Committee and board process on their April 2 and April 9 meetings, respectively."

PPRTA funds are voter-approved and can be spent on capital, maintenance and transit projects. Money in the city's PPRTA maintenance fund, which is about $18 million in 2014, can be used for road resurfacing, pothole patching, minor road repairs, concrete maintenance, curbs and gutters, bridge repair and pedestrian ramps.

Council member Jan Martin said the issue of PPRTA carry-over funds should have been discussed between the council members who had questions and the mayor and not played out in the media.

Martin, who has been on the PPRTA board for four years, said there often is a lag between submitting invoices to PPRTA and receiving payments. She said she believes the city's numbers are correct and there is no unspent money.

"It's a matter of people being comfortable enough to call the people with the answers before they run to press," she said.

The issue is expected to be discussed at the April 7 City Council work session and Bach will ask the council to vote on it April 8.

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