City Council needs to OK $ transfer for new OCC lights

       There might be new historic-style streetlights in Old Colorado City by Christmas season.
       The Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District board is trying, having voted Aug. 3 to transfer $97,000 from reserves as its share of the $127,000 cost of replacing 34 existing city lights and adding 7 new ones.
       Colorado Springs Utilities will pick up the rest of the expense and do the installaton, according to an informal agreement that is to be made into a contract between the two entities by the end of this month.
       The vote was unanimous among the four board members at the meeting (Chair Judy Kasten and members Ginny Wesley, Cretee Nemmer and Mary Purinsh). The board represents property owners in the Old Colorado City Historic District between 24th and 27th streets who tax themselves to pay for district amenities.
       Being replaced would be Utilities' tall “cobra-headed” lights on Colorado Avenue and the side streets back to the alleys between 24th and 27th streets. There also would be one new light on the avenue and six on the side streets.
       The next step is for approval of the transfer to go to Colorado Springs City Council Tuesday, Aug. 10. Council member Jerry Heimlicher, who helped with the negotiations this year between Utilities and the district board, told the Westside Pioneer Aug. 4 that he plans to canvass his peers, but thinks a majority of the council will be in favor.
       He said the Utilities share is defensible because the enterprise planned to spend money for internal maintenance on about half the Old Colorado City lights in the near future; also, the seven new lights are needed for safety reasons.
       However, a point that could be raised by a skeptic is that the other half of the lights were just upgraded a year or so ago, meaning that effort would have been wasted.
       Assuming council approval, installation would begin this fall and be completed by November, according to a letter from Utilities to the district.
       Board members were careful to point out that their vote only approves the fund transfer that makes the district eligible to contract with Utilities for the work. Having received varying Utilities information in recent months (regarding such things as cost- sharing amounts, candlepower and number of lights), members remain wary the actual contract could contain a “deal-breaker” that would stop the plan in its tracks.
       One difference in district plans since last month's meeting is that the board is no longer looking at borrowing money to pay a portion of the cost. Kasten said city lawyers were finding legal complications in the borrowing proposal - because of the way the district is set up - that could have delayed installation.
       Another factor was that the district has more reserve funds than previously thought. With the actual total at $167,000, there will still be $70,000 available for contingencies, even after paying the $97,000.
       The plan in July was to use about a portion from reserves and borrow the rest. But the lending rate offered by the Pikes Peak Regional Develop-ment Corporation was 5 percent; district reserves are earning 3 percent interest. “Everyone did the math,” Heimlicher said, and decided that it would make more financial sense to use 100 percent reserve funds.
       However, board members did leave open the possibility of borrowing in the future if there is a need for supplemental lighting before the reserve fund builds back up. Such would depend on what members eventually decide to do about the 50 or so existing, district-owned “accent” lights (the shorter ones with globes) - some of which are falling apart - and a concept for low, sidewalk lighting similar to what's at Colorado College.

Westside Pioneer Article