From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Big money for flood control on Fountain Creek would become available in January the year after Southern Delivery System begins delivering water.
But the district that will receive the $50 million in payments over five years wants to make sure the money is safe from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights legislation that could erode the funds.
Most likely, the money would begin arriving in 2017, provided that Colorado Springs meets all conditions of its agreement with Pueblo County.
Last week, the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board asked Pueblo County commissioners and Colorado Springs Utilities to amend the 1041 agreement on SDS to make payments to its newly created enterprise, rather than the district. The resolution passed 9-0.
“The money has to be redirected so we can comply with the TABOR spending limit,” Executive Director Larry Small explained.
The money has to be spent on flood control projects that directly benefit Pueblo County, and the district has studies in progress to determine what sort of projects it could be applied.
The Fountain Creek district is looking at a dam or detention ponds between Colorado Springs and Pueblo to reduce the damage from large floods. It is also tackling the questions of impacts of temporary storage on water rights raised by farmers downstream on the Arkansas River.
TABOR puts limits on how much spending can increase by publicly funded entities in Colorado, year over year. Small gave his board projections that showed the full $50 million would not be available. The district intends to use the money to leverage other sources of payment.
Conservancy districts, including Southeastern and the Lower Ark, have long used enterprises to deal with funds collected and spent on top of property taxes. Under state law, the Fountain Creek district can assess up to 5 mills in property tax with voter approval, but it has never approached voters in El Paso and Pueblo counties to initiate any tax.
More Fountain Creek coverage here.