EXCLUSIVE: Mesa Valley 5-2-1 Drainage Authority Dysfunction to Cost Taxpayers well over $250 Million?
VetTheGov has received quite a bit of information regarding storm water drainage in the Grand Valley that is set up to be the next big government created problem gone worse only to be fixed by big government imposed taxes. To set the background quickly and to keep the points short since otherwise this hot story would take several parts to get all relevant information out to the public. VetTheGov offers the following information to make your own decision as to who is responsible and ultimately who will pay.
The Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) was established in 1915 and has authority over 100 square miles that includes 128+ miles of open drains and 130+ miles of piped drainage facilities according to their About Us web page. The main purpose of the district is to allow excess and runoff water from agricultural irrigation canals to be fed back to the Colorado River thus alleviated high water tables and higher salinity being forced upward to the fertile topsoils. This system has operated well over 100 years until urban development entered the equation along with EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) which is now in Tier II compliance. So to simplify permitting and to streamline implementation of the Tier II regulations in the valley the 5-2-1 Drainage Authority was established in 2004. VetTheGov must note that the irrigation runoff waters, typically high with Nitrogen/Phosphorus aka Fertilizer, are exempt from the CWA at this point in time.
Since 2004 the entity has not been very effective implementing the requirements of the CWA and therefore caused the current war between GVDD, Mesa County, and all the municipalities included in the 5-2-1 pact. Studies were conducted by the 5-2-1 up until 2009 when then Commissioner Meis stated the county had no more money to fund the studies. The war continues to involve stormwater drainage from all county and municipalities storm runoff of "regulated water" according the CWA into GVDD's piping that currently has over 28 points back into the Colorado River not included natural washes. GVDD has written a multitude of letters to all who will listen and held multiple meetings to gain the attention needed for the existing problems of capacity. GVDD has made it clear to all entities that they will no longer allow storm runoff from the county or the three other municipalities in the valley unless they pay to do so. See letter below from GVDD to Board of County Commissioners dated November 7, 2014 which gives a very telling scenario!
None of the local governments responded to the letters sent by GVDD, so GVDD decided they had the legislative authority to impose storm fees on their own and adopted resolutions 2014-110, 2014-111, and 2014-112 on April 22, 2014 to begin this collection process based on the all the storm water studies conducted in previous years and to help pay for studies never finished since 2009 Commissioner Meis decision along with the several critical upgrades already discovered. GVDD anticipates an additional $2.6 Million in annual collections in which a majority will be saved for future projects and anticipated huge revenue bonds for a federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Water Systems called an MS4 to be added county wide with current estimates well over $250 Million. This topic will make for interesting debate and likely litigation/mediation since Commissioner Pugliese recently mentioned Mesa County has another $3 Million to trim off of next years budget.
VetTheGov went to the Mesa County site to look for it's Storm Water Management Manual (SWMM) and it linked directly to the City of GJ site for it's municipal codes and so it appears Mesa County has adopted the city's SWMM. In the city code the following appears in Chapter 28:
28.12.100 Post-construction BMPs.
Mesa County, the City of Grand Junction, the Grand Junction Drainage District, and the Town of Palisade, who are members of the Drainage Authority, have obtained permits to discharge stormwater under the Colorado Discharge Permit System (permit numbers COR-090031, COR-090077, COR-090006, and COR-090005, respectively). The terms and conditions of the permits set forth minimum requirements for stormwater management programs including construction site stormwater runoff control and post-construction stormwater management for new development and redevelopment to reduce pollutants in all stormwater runoff to the MS4.
This is a telling code as well:
A large number of agricultural irrigation facilities exist in Mesa County, and many have historically intercepted runoff from rural and agricultural areas with little consequence. However, the development (urbanization) of these areas results in storm runoff of much higher peak flows and larger total volumes. In addition, water quality of the runoff is often adversely impacted by this urbanization. As a result, the traditional practice of utilizing irrigation ditches, drains, and reservoirs for stormwater control must be reexamined on a case-by-case basis.
A question to consider asking the city and county is for actual documentation of the MS4's mentioned in the city code as the definition states the MS4's are owned and operated by the city or county. It is clear with this issue at hand neither the city or county own or operate an MS4 system.
Now imagine, if you will, you are an elected official running for re-election and this hits your radar screen. Well you have the safe non-election year officials step up and play the smoke & mirrors game and then blast it off the radar screens until folks get their new tax bills from GVDD and the real rage begins. By then the elected are hoping their paychecks are solidified in re-election bids and the smoke & mirror capers complete the deflection of bad news for the local tax slaves up until this moment. Hence we move on to the smoke & mirror capers, county commissioner Scott McInnis and city councilman Duncan McArthur.
In response to the GVDD's multiple attempts to get the City of GJ and Mesa County's attention, the below letters were drafted by Scott McInnis and Duncan McArthur using their grandiose titles but not on city or county letterhead. Interesting to note these letters were emailed using the Mesa County administrative assistant Stephanie Reecy. The letters by McInnis and McArthur suggest that our state elected offer new state legislation to fix years of kicking the can down the road and let the next generation deal with the past and current poor management decisions of an out of control clueless government. Sound familiar? See the letters below and a follow-up clarification email to the entire council by McArthur explaining why he took the lead speaking on behalf of the city council. There is no doubt McArthur and McInnis have put the city council and county commissioner board and the local tax slaves in a very interesting position and will be fun to follow the street sweepers on this one.
Date: Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 2:01 PM -0700
Subject: Fwd: GVDD's Letter
To: "Barbara Traylor Smith" , "Belinda White" , "Bennett Boeschenstein" , "Chris Kennedy" , "Duncan McArthur" , "John Shaver" , "Martin Chazen" , "Phyllis Norris" , "Rick Taggart" , "Sam Rainguet" , "Tim Moore" , "Shaunalee Kronkright"
I believe that you have all received a letter from GVDD discussing their fee. In that letter, they mentioned me personally and attributed an erroneous comment that I supposedly made so this email is to correct that statement.
I did make a presentation to WCCA's Board about Commissioner McInnis and I seeking support to have the legislators consider changing GVDD's current form of governance to one that is more representative. In that presentation, I made no criticism of the GVDD Board's competency. My comments has always been that we have an agency that is seeking to collect and spend over $60 million over the next 20 years with effectively no oversight. I also mentioned that, under the current form of governance, GVDD mis-managed its mill levy over the years costing the District millions but that is a matter of record and has even been acknowledged by former District representatives. Both Commissioner McInnis and I have repeatedly stated that we are not saying anyone has done anything wrong. But an organization with over $100 million in assets seeking to collect and spend over $60 million without any effective oversight is a recipe for problems.
With all that being said, you will received a letter this afternoon, if you have not already received it, recommending that the issue of governance be referred to DOLA to study the issue and make their recommendation to the legislators on how the District would best be governed. This takes the political jabs and egos out of the question because that is not what this is all about. It is about how best to serve the citizens of this valley.
McArthur's email proves he has only his best interest in mind as he wants to push these hard decisions over to DOLA and the state elected to get this hot topic away from local media and tax payer attention and appoint their own hand picked board to continue the kicking of the can down the road. This is the City's sudden Resolution to be adopted here and not sure if ever approved or voted upon. Without the ability to develop land any further due to storm runoff drainage MS4 issue it begins to put strain on builders and real estate agents and of course higher tax bases with the possibilities for the city to ignore their very own codes.
Scott McInnis attended a meeting with GVDD on January 24, 2015 and asked GVDD for two months to get his technical information together and to get the buy in from Commissioner's Justman and Pugliese. Scott McInnis then instructs county employee Julie Constan to begin a white paper crusade to convince the other commissioners. However five months later the 5-2-1 is being resurrected to its original dysfunctional state but with the added two politically appointed members. Leave no doubt the progressive big government types already sitting on the 5-2-1 board will leave a legacy for the many future tax slaves that will pay dearly for this Juntion Dysfunction!
The concept offered by McInnis and McArthur, who sit on the current appointed 5-2-1 board, is to continue the 5-2-1 dysfunction by adding two more to the board making five that will be all be appointed via the good ole boy political network that always take care of friends in the mesa county elite ranks. Since Scott McInnis now has $500K to contribute to the valley via his 10-year Western Way PAC funding, he could play savior for the 5-2-1's poor planning since its inception. So far from the recent PAC pay outs it appears local bank fees, investment gain taxes, CMU, cell phone calls, and recently Patrick Davis of "Colorado Liberty Alliance" for $15,000.00 are the token winners so far. Side Note VetTheGov found this interesting article about the Colorado Liberty Alliance as a hit tool used to take out TEA party candidates within the republican party and specifically Marsha Looper who was running against Amy Stephens aka"Amycare" who gave us our current bankrupt and high cost federal healthcare exchange in Colorado.
VetTheGov will keep all you tax slaves up to date in the upcoming weeks as this surely will play out as one of the biggest political power plays to date in Mesa County. The below picture taken by VetTheGov shows a drain on a Mesa County residential road that has not been cleaned or swept all year which proves at least the 5-2-1 is another government failure! VetTheGov dedicates the drain and names it on behalf of all tax slaves in the valley the McInnis-McArthur Drainage District Trophy Drain since without a doubt these two officials will save us all from the impending implosion. No worries because all these characters are protected by the Government Immunity Act. This will all end with a call for help to Washington D.C. that will keep the Grand Valley under Federal Rule and prove the bigger question of why the local tax slaves need any local officials at all! Stay tuned more to come!