A majority of Colorado Springs voters are likely to vote for a proposed stormwater fee and are well informed about stormwater drainage and flood control infrastructure, according to a poll conducted last week by Invest in COS, a group which includes many community leaders.
Invest in COS is backing the proposed stormwater fee.
The poll, led by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, was conducted by The Tarrance Group, which contacted 400 likely Colorado Springs voters by phone to assess their knowledge of stormwater and their attitude toward a proposed fee to fund improvements.
“The reason the chamber is taking a leading role is because we see that maintaining infrastructure is important to a sustainable city budget and a sustainable economy,” said Rachel Beck, government affairs manager for the Chamber & EDC. “This all came together quickly in the last couple of weeks. One of the interesting things we found in the poll is that voters are very aware of this issue, more than in other campaigns I’ve worked on.”
The poll revealed the following:
- Fifty-nine percent of likely voters say they would vote for a proposed fee and 36 percent say they would vote against it.
- Even after hearing potential negative messages, 54 percent say they would vote in favor.
- Six percent said they are undecided, both before and after hearing messages.
- Voters are very informed about stormwater drainage and flood control issues, and understand how a lack of maintenance drives up costs and threatens other infrastructure like roads and bridges, endangers public safety, and affects other city budget priorities, such as police staffing.
Beck said she was not disappointed in the 59 percent approval rating.
“That’s a really positive place for us to start,” she said. “A campaign rule of thumb is you want to start at about 60 percent to have a cushion when discussion starts.”
Mayor John Suthers is among the community leaders involved with Invest in COS, along with Colorado Springs City Council President Richard Skorman and Councilor Merv Bennett and representatives of area organizations such as COS Forward, COS Together, the Trails and Open Space Coalition, Pikes Peak Association of Realtors and Council of Neighbors and Organizations.
“Invest in COS is our steering committee for the campaign,” Beck said, adding the group will likely conduct another poll in the coming months.
“Colorado Springs doesn’t have the dedicated funds we need to control dangerous floods, and our infrastructure has deteriorated for decades,” Suthers said in a news release. “Funding stormwater in a separate, dedicated fund will address long-standing maintenance issues. We’re the only city in the country that doesn’t fund stormwater this way. It’s time to repair our crumbling stormwater drainage and free up money in the city’s budget for other priorities like hiring more police officers.”
Colorado Springs City Council will finalize changes to the existing stormwater enterprise and determine ballot language for the fee proposal at its Aug. 22 meeting. The proposal would generate $17-18 million per year for 20 years to be used exclusively for stormwater drainage and flood control, including a list of 71 projects. Funds would be generated through a $5 per month fee for residential properties and $30 per acre per month for non-residential development. Usage of those proposed funds would be overseen by a citizen committee.
The poll also asked those likely voters if they approved of the way Suthers is handling his job as mayor, with 66 percent in approval, 18 percent unsure and 16 percent disapproving.
An additional question asked how city council is handling issues facing Colorado Springs and 56 percent of respondents approved, 27 percent disapproved and 17 percent were unsure.