City Council worked thousands of hours in 2018 to pass hundreds of ordinances and resolutions creating a bright outlook for the future of Colorado Springs. City growth and development are at an all-time high, and the Council continues to work in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, especially in terms of finalizing the 2019 City Budget that will address some of the City’s biggest needs.
Growth and Development
· Banning Lewis Ranch Annexation Amendment
On May 8, City Council voted to adopt an amended annexation agreement for Banning Lewis Ranch that was first passed in 1988. City staff and City Council worked for several months to align the annexation agreement with City Code. The amended agreement encourages responsible development in this significant portion of the City and is expected to welcome 62,000 people over the next 30 years, generating $49 million in net revenue for the City and is projected to add $41 billion to the City’s economy over the same period.
· Urban Renewal Downtown
At the final City Council meeting of 2018 came unanimous votes to create a new urban renewal area downtown and revise an existing renewal area to speed up development. The existing urban renewal area is 82 acres in southwest downtown where the Olympic museum, soccer stadium, restaurants, apartments and businesses are expected to be developed. The new urban renewal area is 1.5 acres where a 256-room hotel, parking garage and streetscape improvements are planned. Urban Renewal Area Plans are 25 year tax sharing agreements between the City and the Urban Renewal Authority to help fund qualifying improvements.
· C4C and the new Pikes Peak Summit House
As seen on the first day of the 12 Days of COS Stories, 2018 was a remarkable year regarding City for Champions projects. Two projects (Olympic Museum and soccer stadium) will be in the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area. The indoor arena at Colorado College, UCCS’ Medicine and Performance Center, and the Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center will continue to draw tourists to Olympic City USA. City Council will continue to review these projects as they break ground and near completion!
Also set to draw tourists is the new Pikes Peak Summit House that broke ground in June and is set to be completed in late 2020. Since Pikes Peak—America’s Mountain is a City enterprise, City Council has to agree to appropriate funds for the project (which they did in April, appropriating $13.5 million) and Council agreed in September to a better interest rate on bonds that would raise up to $33 million for the estimated $55 million, 38,000 square-foot structure.
· Consent Calendar
For the second year in a row, the Annual City Budget passed Council unanimously and was on the consent calendar for its second reading on November 27. In an unprecedented move, the City Council mark-up session was canceled because Council felt no additional changes needed to be made. This demonstrates the collaborative effort all year long between City Council and the Mayor’s Office to create a fair budget for all. The 2019 General Fund Budget is $302.1 million, which is $15.4 million or 5.4 percent more than the 2018 budget.
· Public Safety
The Mayor’s office and City Council especially want to focus on sworn position compensation with the 2019 Budget to maintain police officers and firefighters in our community. To bring police and fire sworn positions to market average, $9.9 million is being allocated, which will also help implement year two of the civilian compensation strategy.
Ordinances and Resolutions
· By the numbers 2018
Ø Ordinances: 126 passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Suthers
Ø Resolutions: 164 adopted by City Council
Ø Banning Streamside Camping—Council created a 100 foot buffer around waterways where people are not allowed to camp. The ordinance was later amended to add stricter fines if someone litters in a waterway. This ordinance is aimed at helping the environment and maintaining cleaner water traveling to our downstream neighbors.
Ø Appropriating $500,000 for More Shelter Beds—City Council agreed to spend $500,000, which combined with federal funds has added around 370 low barrier shelter beds. The additional beds will help the City enforce no camping laws, which can only be enforced if there is available shelter space.
Ø Short Term Rentals— Regulations were passed to create a permitting process for Short Term Rentals (STR). The permits create ground rules for STR owners and ensure payment of LART (Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax).
Ø Wildlife Feeding Ordinance—Living in an urban-wildlife interface can bring issues between animals and humans, one issue is feeding wildlife which brings more harm than good. City Council passed an ordinance in October to provide warnings to people found feeding animals, and then impose fines up to $500 if the person continues.