From my time of service in the State Legislature, I have been a proponent and champion of local control. I have kept that philosophy as a priority in my role as a Colorado Springs City Council and Colorado Springs Utilities Board Member and have seen how vital local control is when it comes to our city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities.
When the Colorado Springs City Council, meeting as the Colorado Springs Utilities Board of Directors, began work on the Governance Process and Governance Structure Review in the fall of 2014, the Board set guidelines for the discussion that 1) it is better to review governance when the organization is performing well, and 2) community ownership and local control would be maintained. Colorado Springs Utilities, its services and/or systems, were not for sale.
Throughout the Governance Review, citizen-owners, who are also voters responded to numerous surveys with high levels of support to be able to elect the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, a right they would not have without community ownership and local control. I believe that citizens of Colorado Springs know that to keep our utility rates as low as possible, while maintaining high levels of service and reliability, they must be able to hold their Utilities Board accountable.
A recommendation of the Governance Review is adding language to the City Charter to require more votes than in the current City Charter if selling Colorado Springs Utilities is on the ballot. Currently, the Charter requires a simple majority vote to sell a substantial part of Utilities or any Utilities Department. The language that we proposed for the April, 2017 ballot would require a sixty percent (60%) supermajority vote to sell Colorado Springs Utilities or any of its systems.
No one currently is actively trying to force a sale of Colorado Springs Utilities or any of its services. We as your City Council and Utilities Board believe that if selling Colorado Springs Utilities is proposed in the future, it deserves the maximum amount of deliberation, input and ultimately a higher threshold of voter approval by our citizen-owners before such an important and community-changing decision would be made. Requiring a supermajority vote to sell Utilities will necessitate a much more robust community discussion in order to build the consensus needed to pass, and so protect our citizen-owners and customers by ensuring that their voices are heard concerning their ownership of our vital community asset.
Low rates, reliable service and accountability of our elected officials to our citizen-owners and customers is a value our community wants to protect. We need to do our part to protect this asset and ensure that this legacy continues by requiring more than a simple majority to sell our utilities.