Published: March 30, 2015;
THE FOUNTAIN Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District has a request.
The district last week asked Pueblo County commissioners and Colorado Springs Utilities to amend the 1041 permit that both entities signed giving the utilities permission to build the Southern Delivery System. The district wants the commissioners and utilities to change the wording of the permit so that some $50 million in funds would be paid into an enterprise fund rather than directly to the Fountain Creek district.
When Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo County reached the terms of the permit for SDS, they agreed that Colorado Springs Utilities and its El Paso County-based partners would spend $50 million for flood mitigation work on Fountain Creek. The permit also requires the money to be used to significantly benefit Pueblo County, which to us means protecting it from raging floodwaters and damage from upstream.
The funds will be paid to the Fountain Creek district, but the district was at risk of losing some dollars if they were to be paid into the general fund. That is because it would have run awry of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
TABOR is the voter-approved constitutional amendment that sets caps on how much a government’s spending may grow, year over year. And Larry Small, the executive director of the Fountain Creek district, projected that the $50 million would exceed the limit.
So the district is sagely endeavoring to circumnavigate the caps by setting up an enterprise fund. This is a common and thoughtful solution to the district’s financial dilemma, and it is into this fund that the district is asking Pueblo County and the utilities to agree to direct the $50 million in funding.
If all goes according to plan, the district will use that cash as seed money to leverage even more funds for flood control on Fountain Creek.
Most of the time, the creek is a mellow, meandering body of water. But as we all know, it doesn’t take much rain from up north to turn that calm creek into a raging torrent capable of devastating those of us downstream.
So it is imperative that every penny of the $50 million pledge goes to flood mitigation projects right here in Pueblo County.