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City of Colorado Springs / News

PPRTA Budgetary Compliance/Maintenance of Efforts for City Transit Services

 

STEVE BACH MAYOR

30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 601 • TEL 719-385-5900 Mailing Address: Post Office Box 1575, Mail Code 610 • Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1575

Date: March 21, 2014

To: Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) Board of Directors

Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) to the PPRTA Board of Directors

Cc: President and Members of City Council

From: Steve Bach, Mayor, City of Colorado Springs

Steve Cox, Chief of Staff, City of Colorado Springs

Subject: PPRTA Budgetary Compliance/Maintenance of Efforts for City Transit Services

Dear Board Members:

This letter is in response to the PPRTA’s March 12, 2014 letter to City Chief Financial Officer Kara Skinner requesting a financial plan for future City Transit spending.

As you know, on August 26, 2004, El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs, the City of Manitou Springs, and the Town of Green Mountain Falls approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the intent that funding from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA) should not be used to substitute or reduce the City’s funding of transit and transportation maintenance activities.

While the Parties intended that the City maintain then-current transit funding levels, this was not a requirement of the IGA nor was it included in the PPRTA ballot language as a requirement. The City Attorney’s Office has advised Council and the Administration that this language was aspirational and non-binding on the City, and that the funding of City transit programs is left to the sole discretion of the City. Therefore, the "maintenance of efforts" is not a mandatory requirement.

This legal opinion is consistent with the principle that a City Council cannot bind future Councils to appropriate funds for any purpose. The City Councilmembers who approved the agreement in 2004 could not have foreseen the economic crisis that began in 2008, the Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012 or the many other factors that complicate prioritizing our City’s budget every year. Page 2 PPRTA Budgetary Compliance March 21, 2014

While the PPRTA Board acknowledged the stress on the City’s budget due to the global recession of 2009, additional burdens, chief of which are millions of dollars in post-Waldo Canyon Fire flood mitigation and stormwater improvement projects, have further strained the City’s budget and demanded reprioritization as well. Moreover, City Council has allowed Colorado Springs Utilities to continue raising the price of water for our Parks which totaled $1,130,000 in 2014 alone, and to provide electric service to a new big-box retail development outside the city which will adversely impact City sales tax revenue by up to $3 million annually. Additionally, in 2009 El Paso County unilaterally reduced the Road and Bridge mill levy that is shared with the City, a loss of over $2,000,000 annually. Every taxpayer dollar is directly impacted by these events and decisions.

Yet, despite our continued limited resources, the City of Colorado Springs has satisfied the aspirational goal of the IGA, maintaining annual average City transit funding of more than $86,000 over 2004 levels. Since 2011 we have worked to increase transit funding and services, adding back funding to restore evening, weekend and additional holiday services on key routes. At the end of this month, we will begin services to the Powers Boulevard corridor.

Careful consideration of all core service needs is critical, and it is incumbent upon City leadership to achieve the proper funding balance. Pursuant to our City Charter, it is City Council’s responsibility to provide the funding needed for City services, and it is the Mayor’s responsibility to recommend and manage spending. The budget process is the appropriate setting to raise transit funding concerns, an opportunity not taken last year by the City Councilmembers who also sit on the PPRTA Board of Directors.

The City has and will continue to use its best efforts to provide the best transit services to our citizens within the available budget. These efforts will be subject to our future revenue stream and any further cash flow reductions outside of our control, such as urgent Public Safety, Streets and flood mitigation financial needs. We remain open to Council’s ideas for additional transit funding.

Sincerely,

____________________________ ____________________________

Steve Bach Steve Cox

Mayor, City of Colorado Springs Chief of Staff, City of Colorado Springs