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Mayor, City Council to consider uses of reserve fund

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Apr 17 2013 08:15:15 PM CDT

Steve Bach targeting $12 million for fire/flood mitigation projects.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach discussed potential uses of the city's reserve fund at his monthly briefing Wednesday.

Bach said the city has a reserve fund of $34 million, down from a record high of $54 million at the end of 2012.  The latter amount was close to the city's goal of having a fund that represents 25 percent of the annual budget.  The current fund amount represents 13 percent of the budget.

"That's a lot better than when I first took office and we had only 12 days of cash on hand at one point," said Bach.

The mayor plans to ask the City Council next week to use nearly $12 million from the fund; $10 million would pay for flood and fire mitigation projects related to the Waldo Canyon fire last summer.  Among the objectives:  restoring Camp and Douglas creeks; a scientific study of the fire; more emergency preparedness training; and managing forests to remove materials that could fuel future fires.

Chief of Staff Laura Neumann said the city would hire a firm to do the work, and hopes work can start sooner than waiting for a final Council vote next month.

"If Council sees this as a top priority when we present it on Monday, there's a method to make it an emergency appropriation," said Neumann.  "Then we could start work immediately following."

The remaining $2 million from Bach's request would pay for replacing nine police motorcycles; pay raises for police officers, firefighters and some civilian employees; and new software to help the city better respond to public feedback.

"The previous software was archaic -- very outdated," said Neumann.

In another development, Bach said the city has to provide $6 million as a local match to state funding for the proposed interchange improvement at Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street.  Bach didn't say whether the money would come from the reserve fund or from another source.

However, he said the city will provide $5 million, and he'll ask El Paso County to provide the remaining $1 million.

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