The council voted 5-4 to refer the measure to the ballot.
But the proposal, which calls for increasing council pay from $6,250 a year to $48,000, effective in 2015, still requires a second reading at the Feb. 12 council meeting.
“I cannot support” the ballot proposal, Bach said during his monthly press conference.
“It’s simply because I think that’s a piecemeal approach to, frankly, reinventing our City Council. I do think we should have a serious discussion about council compensation. They do work very hard. I think they should be compensated fairly, and I’m not sure that’s the case right now. But I think that needs to be tied to council’s long-term role and responsibilities,” he said.
Bach reiterated his pledge to work with council on an expedited charter review “and hopefully come to a consensus on those matters which we should ask the voters to consider.”
Click here to listen to the mayor’s comments.
District 4 City Council candidate Deborah Hendrix says it’s premature for a pay raise for council when its roles and responsibilities are in flux.
“A change in the governance of (Colorado Springs Utilities) and other measures may decrease the amount of day-to-day operations that the council handles,” Hendrix said Wednesday night in an email to council.
“Also, consider the effect of council moving from a group of citizen politicians to a group of professional politicians. That will change the dynamics of who runs for council and could lead to a situation where the salary becomes more important than serving the community,” she said.
Hendrix also questions whether the city can afford a bump in pay for council members, who are currently paid $6,250 a year.
“If we can find $437,000, why not utilize those funds for firefighters, police officers, or improved transportation? I know that with these things the citizens would be well pleased,” she said.
Hendrix said she will personally vote against a pay increase if council puts the question on the ballot in April.
The council will decide Tuesday whether to refer that proposal and four others to the ballot in April.
Here is the full, unedited text of Hendrix’s email to council:
Good Morning Councilors:
First, I want to thank you for your service to the City of Colorado Springs. I appreciate the work you have done and certainly look forward to working with those of you that will remain on Council after the election in April.
My name is Deborah Hendrix and I have been a resident in this City for the past 21 years and currently I am running for District 4 – City Council seat.
My purpose for writing to each of you is in regard to one of the upcoming amendments you will decide to put on the ballot on next Tuesday at the City Council meeting. I by no means have all the answers and know all the discussions and dialogues that have occurred regarding this issue, so I offer my humble opinion and hope that you will take that into consideration as you make your final decision.
I realize many of the changes over the last two years with the executive/legislative structure have certainly caused some issues regarding who has authority and responsibility over a number of measures that might have been very clear under the past form of government. So I applaud the work you have done to try and be clear and concise in your voting of policies, laws and procedures.
The one ballot issue, ie. Council Compensation.
Council Compensation – While paying City Council members a wage which is commensurate with the work that currently engages them seems very appropriate, with the new roles and responsibilities of City Council in flux, the increase in pay may be premature. A change in the governance of CSU and other measures may decrease the amount of day-to-day operations that the Council handles.
Also, consider the effect of Council moving from a group of citizen politicians to a group of professional politicians. That will change the dynamics of who runs for council and could lead to a situation where the salary becomes more important than serving the community.
Also, can the City at this time afford to allocate $437K within the already tight budget? If we can find $437K, why not utilize those funds for firefighters, police officers, or improved transportation? I know that with these things the citizens would be well pleased.
If this measure makes it to the ballot, I as a citizen would not support it and would be highly disappointed that the Council did not consider the short-term (financial/roles) and long-term (change in type of citizens for council) effects of such a major shift.
Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this issue. Thank you again for your service.
Williams, who is running for re-election against former state Sen. Keith King and former county Commissioner Jim Bensberg in the race for District 3, lists the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs among her endorsers.
But Williams failed to secure the HBA’s endorsement this year.
Granted, Williams includes the HBA among the organizations supporting her on her old campaign website.
But one of her competitors — King — landed in hot water this week when he listed county Commissioner Sallie Clark as a member of his advisory council.
It’s true that Clark served on King’s advisory council. But she did so when he was in the Legislature.
“Sorry for the confusion, Sallie Clark,” King’s campaign manager, Daniel Cole, said on Facebook.
“Keith’s page is currently undergoing a transition from a Legislative website to a new Council website, which has been built for a couple days, but which has lain dormant as we worked out networking issues.”
Clark, who is friends with all the candidates, asked that her name be removed.
The proposed charter change by Chairman Scott Hente and board member Jan Martin calls for replacing the council with a seven-member independent board that would be elected as early as June. Board members would serve four-year terms and be limited to three consecutive terms. The proposal also calls for a supermajority vote of Colorado Springs voters to sell Utilities or any of its assets.
The Gazette asked the mayor to weigh in on the proposal, and here’s what he said in a statement:
“Scott Hente and Jan Martin stated at the Utility Board meeting today that they will bring to City Council next Tuesday a ballot measure for the April Municipal Election, asking voters to approve a change in governance for Colorado Springs Utilities, our largest and most important owned asset. Mr. Hente and Ms. Martin surprised the other members of the Utility Board and me in making this proposal today at the last minute before the City Council statutory deadline for placing items on the April ballot. They are suggesting that a new 7-member elected Board control CSU in the future. While this idea may be worth debate, the community should complete a thorough discussion of all alternatives before this most important decision is made. This is yet another last minute, piecemeal, proposed change to the City Charter on the eve of Mr. Hente being term limited and leaving City Council. I’m disappointed that Mr. Hente would attempt this power play as he leaves office, and hope the City Council will turn this back next Tuesday and the other piecemeal Charter changes it is entertaining – which represent bad policy and are not in the best interests of our fellow citizens.”
Here is the questionnaire:
Please write a short paragraph about why you are running and your philosophical agenda for the City of Colorado Springs:
Please provide a summary of your professional background your qualifications for serving on the Colorado Springs City Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of Colorado Springs Utilities.
Please answer the following series of questions. Please submit electronically with the questionnaire. The questionnaire will be distributed to the members of our PAC interview committee prior to your interview.
Do you favor the current form of government as approved by the voters in 2010 to have a strong mayor form of government? Explain your position.
Will you support any charter amendments to change the form of government by rolling back or adding to the powers of the Mayor or Council? Please explain.
Does the Mayor have too much or too little power under the new form of government?
How would you change the balance of power between the Mayor and City Council.
What is your assessment of the first two years of the term of Mayor Bach?
Do you support changes in the employee pension plans?
– For police and fire
– For civilian employees
If there are not sufficient revenues to meet the expenses of the City, what is your approach:
– Increase revenue? How?
– Decrease expenses? How?
At what level should the City maintain its unrestricted reserve fund balance?
It is estimated that the backlog of storm water drainage improvements is around $500 million?
– As a member of Council, what would be your proposal to deal with this?
Did you support or oppose the extension of PPRTA? Explain your position.
Are the funds received from PPRTA adequate to meet the needs of the City?
– If not, how would you fund the deficiencies?
What are your views on public transportation, including our bus system, FREX, light rail and a downtown trolley?
– Explain your proposal for funding those items you support.
As a member of Council, you will also be a member of the Board of Directors for Colorado Springs Utilities.
– Do you favor a change in the governance of Utilities, and if so to what?
What are your views about the following Utility issues:
– Implementation of the Neumann technology at the Martin Drake or Nixon power plants.
– Should Martin Drake be decommissioned? Explain your position.
– Do you favor selling or leasing any of the four utilities? Explain your position.
If you favor selling or leasing, how would you use the proceeds from the sale or lease.
Do you support Southern Delivery System? Explain your answer.
Should Utilities sell water to the City at a reduced rate for watering of public parks?
Is the City getting its fair share of funds from CDOT?
– If not, what is your proposal to make sure the City gets its fair share?
Did you support or oppose the lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health System?
– Would you have preferred the sale or lease to an entity composed of the leadership of the hospital?
– Explain your positions.
Please provide a closing statement with any additional information you would like to provide to our interview committee.
Please include a copy of your professional resume with this questionnaire.
But the political action committee of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs has already finalized its endorsements.
“By this time, with the amount of time candidates have had to consider running, we figure that people that have that kind of passion for office already have been out there long enough to have a good sense of the field. So to us, it’s not too early,” said William Mutch, the HBA’s director of government affairs and public policy.
The endorsements were made before all the candidates are known because it’s a “longstanding tradition” of the HBA to get “involved effectively,” Mutch said.
The HBA endorsed only two incumbents — Angela Dougan and Tim Leigh.
The HBA endorsed Keith King over incumbent Brandy Williams in District 3 and Al Loma over Bernie Herpin in District 5.
The fifth incumbent — Lisa Czelatdko — is apparently not seeking re-election.
Ed Bircham, who is running for council District 6 and wasn’t endorsed by the HBA, said he didn’t receive a questionnaire or an invitation to interview with the organization.
“I don’t know why they made up their minds so fast without giving me the opportunity,” Bircham said.
Still, Bircham said he didn’t want to be “indebted” to any group. In fact, he said he’s going to fund his own campaign.
“I’m going to fund it myself so I’m not indebted to special interest groups,” he said.
The HBA PAC is headed by Ralph Braden, vice president at Nor’wood Development Group, one of Colorado Springs’ biggest real estate companies.
Braden, who is on the HBA’s executive committee, declined to comment.
Here are the HBA’s endorsements:
District 1: Incumbent Tim Leigh
District 2: Incumbent Angela Dougan
District 3: Keith King
District 4: Deborah Hendrix
District 5: Al Loma
District 6: David Moore
That’s according to Keith King, a former state senator and state representative who is running for council District 3.
On his website, King said the District 3 seat is open because Czelatdko is “not running.”
“Lisa told Keith that she wasn’t running,” said Daniel Cole, who is King’s campaign manager.
Czelatdko was coy last week when asked whether she would seek re-election.
“I’m going to have an announcement out by Feb. 6,” she said, referring to the last day to turn in nominating petitions.
When told that the word on the street was that she wasn’t going to run again, Czelatdko said: “Yeah, I’ve heard that.”
Here’s what observers believed was another sign that Czelatdko won’t run again: County Commissioner Sallie Clark, a Czelatdko ally, is on King’s advisory council, according to his website.
However, Clark clarified Tuesday night that she had served on King’s advisory council when he was in the Legislature and that she was unlikely to endorse any of the candidates. Clark asked the King campaign to immediately remove her name from King’s website.
“While I served as a small-business owner on Keith’s sounding board when he was in the Legislature, I am not currently serving on his advisory council for the District 3 city race,” she said on Facebook.
“I’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet with each of the District 3 candidates to talk about Westside issues and informed each of them that I do not expect to endorse any specific candidate,” Clark added.
“As an elected official, I have seen how this has hurt the performance of the current sitting leadership,” Czelatdko said in the email, which was obtained by The Gazette from a source.
Czelatdko also criticizes some of her colleagues, though she doesn’t list them by name.
“Certain Council Members have shown complacency, inconsistency, stagnation, and selfishness. I apologize that we have not done a better job in serving you,” she wrote.
In an interview, Czelatdko expressed surprise that the email had been leaked. She said she sent the email to supporters who she personally identifies as leaders.
“To tell you the truth, with who I sent it to, I did not think for a second it would get to the press,” she said.
However, Czelatdko said she stood by what she wrote and knows that anything she sends on email can get out.
Czelatdko requested that the email be published in its entirety if it was published at all.
Here is the full, unedited text of the email:
With the upcoming City Council elections, please use your influence and money choosing leaders that are willing to work with others, teach others, and be committed to the common goal of improving the City and the region. Do not allow favoritism or familiarity to overshadow fairness and those wanting to serve with political integrity.
Steve bach did not attend events our State’s Governor came down for. He did Not attend the Southern Economic forum. He did Not attend the UCCS Lane academic center groundbreaking. He did Not attend the UCCS sequestration discussions. He did Not attend the State of the region discussions. He has cancelled regional mayor meetings. He does not attend Council or CSU meetings. Colorado Springs is seeing the promotion, support, and abuse of authoritarian leadership. As an elected official, I have seen how this has hurt the performance of the current sitting leadership.
Certain Council Members have shown complacency, inconsistency, stagnation, and selfishness. I apologize that we have not done a better job in serving you.
Despite the livability and low property taxes bringing people to Colorado Springs, the challenges for local government continue to grow. Its more important than ever to build coalitions among City, County, and State leadership, private businesses, and neighboring municipalities to come up with strategies to solve problems, get citizens involved, stopping the overlapping or duplication of services, and provide the best services to all citizens. Thats our job as your elected representatives.
Lastly, please remember that City Council is meant to be a deliberative Republic body. The people voted a Council Mayor form of government to have a separation and a limit of powers. What is being achieved is short term aims like benchmarking, outsourcing, and reducing waste. Long term, we are seeing the spoiling of collective partnerships, a division of leadership, groups and PACs exchanging support to dissuade, and citizens losing confidence in their elected officials.
Your support for Council is critical for change. Real, lasting, satisfying change. For the last 21 months, its been a privilege being your elected official, thank you very much.
Lisa L. Czelatdko (sa-lot-ko)
Leigh, who was on vacation in Hawaii, arrived in Colorado Springs on Monday.
He said the first thing he saw when he turned on his phone was a tweet from a Gazette reporter about a new parody Twitter account that pokes fun at him.
The account, which calls Leigh a “flake” and Mayor Steve Bach’s “errand boy,” includes an unflattering picture of Leigh.
“That’s the very first thing I saw when I turned on my cell phone,” he said.
“I want to know where they found that picture. I want to get it reproduced and put that in my City Hall office because that’s how I feel about City Hall most of the time when (my colleagues) vote against me.”
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Center for Study of Government and the Individual is awarding the Civic Innovator of the Year award Jan. 29 to the Westside Community Center LLC.
“The prolonged economic downturn has put local governments in a bind. How are they to meet an increasing demand for social services with decreasing revenues resulting from a slumping economy? Colorado Springs three years ago began meeting that challenge by forming public-private partnerships at the city’s pools and community centers, of which The Westside Community Center LLC — a partnership between the city of Colorado Springs and the Woodmen Valley Chapel’s Center for Strategic Ministry — is the stellar example,” according to Peak Freedom Forum, which is hosting the awards ceremony during its Food for Thought Luncheon.
The luncheon is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, 3225 Broadmoor Valley Road. Cost is $30 per person. For more information or to register, click here.
Former City Councilman Sean Paige, who is on the Board of Directors of Peak Freedom Forum, said the award recognizes local individuals or organizations that harness private sector initiative to help address problems that might otherwise fall on government.
“I’m particularly excited about this year’s recipient, the private/public partnership operating the Westside Community Center, because I helped champion such new models while serving on City Council. When confronting major budget cuts, and with city pools and community centers on the chopping block, we on council put out the call for private sector assistance. And the response was amazing. The Westside Center is only one of the success stories that resulted, which we’ll talk more about on Jan. 29th, but we could only give out one such award this year and we felt that this partnership was most deserving,” he said in an email.