One of the seats on the three-member board of the Grand Valley Drainage District, District 3 is up for election this spring. Following its Endorsement Process, the Chamber chose to endorse Mary Brophy for the seat. She, like the Chamber believes that stormwater is an issue that should be addressed on a valley wide basis and that the fee levied by the Grand Valley Drainage District Board is really a tax that those inside the District boundaries should be allowed to decide through the ballot box.
This election will be on May 8th, with polls open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM at the District offices, 722 23 Road. Property owners who live in an area roughly east from 28 Road and north of the Colorado River to the Grand Valley Highline Canal are eligible to vote. If property is held jointly both parties can cast a ballot.
There will be no mailed notice or mailed ballots so please urge those eligible to take a few minutes and vote in this important election. To determine if you or someone you know is eligible to vote go the GVDD Election website (http://thedrainagedistrict.org/2018-election/) and click on the interactive map.
Both candidate responses, to a set of questions posed by the Chamber, are shown below:
Question For Candidates for Grand Valley Drainage District Board – District 3
1. Why are you running for this board?
I would like transparency for the people receiving services from the GVDD, how is this new fee being spent? Are the decisions fiscally responsible and conservative?
I have worked closely with Grand Valley Drainage District GVDD for the past 8 years as chair of the 5-2-1 Stormwater Authority. I have known and have great respect for the GVDD Board and Staff. Richard Bowman has served as GVDD District 3 Director for the past 6 years and is termed out.
Having deliberated over stormwater strategies and issues over the past 8 years with both 5-2-1 and GVDD, I feel qualified to move onto the board of GVDD as a well informed, thoughtful participant.
2. If elected what will be your major goal(s)?
Reviewing the current budget and seeking community input and implementing ideas for the best use of the GVDD budget.
My main goals on the GVDD board will be to work with the GVDD Board and staff on the following issues and topics:
Continue the GVDD’s long history of successfully managing irrigation return flow and ground water seepage, returning these flows to the Colorado River with as little negative effect on adjacent property and with as little pollution entering the Colorado River as possible.
Continue to work with 5-2-1 and its member agencies on meeting the federal and state requirements for clean water in all our manmade and natural conduits of water back into the Colorado River (meeting “MS4” municipal separate storm sewer systems regulations).
Implement and manage the stormwater return flow system so that stormwater is separated from sanitary sewer and in 100 year floods stormwater is safely conveyed to the Colorado River.
Other Issues (space did not allow for listing all these but a copy is available by emailing email@example.com).
3. If elected would you want to make any changes? If yes, what would they be?
I would initially start by learning about the current plans for the budget expenditures. Additionally, I would review the current operations of the GVDD.
While I have no intention of making changes to the current governance or operations of GVDD, I would be willing to work proactively with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce (“Chamber”) and other interested parties in replacing the fee which funds stormwater projects with a mill levy. The Chamber objects to the imposition of the fee on nonprofits and religious organizations. Replacing the fee with a mill levy to fund the stormwater utility would address the Chamber’s concerns. Working with the Chamber and other friends, we could make the case both for the necessity of ensuring that we are all safe from the damages of stormwater, along with the fairness of paying for the utility with a mill levy instead of with a fee.
4. What is the best way to address stormwater mitigation measures? Do you believe the fee imposed by the GVDD board is the best way to address funding needs?
It is vital to have a drainage plan in place to ensure the safety of the land owners, I will be reviewing the current plan and making suggestions if necessary.
I do have questions regarding expenditures that I feel were not in the best interest of the people. After confirming that these expenditures were in fact made, I will be better able to answer this question.
The best way to address stormwater mitigation measures is to comply with best industry practices. This includes construction of stormwater detention facilities and stormwater drainage lines (pipes and ditches, separated from sanitary sewer lines) that are able to safely conduct stormwater up to and including the waters of 100 year floods.
Stormwater separation from wastewater
In the Grand Valley, we have a large number of stormwater conveyance drains that are inadequately located, inappropriately sized, and improperly unseparated from wastewater pipes. We need to correct all of these inadequacies.
Downriver municipalities universally expect that we return stormwater to the Colorado in its natural state, not burdened with human and animal waste.
These three factors have left us with a very large bill to pay in order to meet Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines.
5. What else should the Chamber and its members know about you?
I moved to Palisade in April 2015, I am retired from the Dental field, I am married to Brad Brophy, we own a fruit orchard in Palisade, our son, Ryan is active in Challenger Baseball, and we are Proud supporters of Colorado Mesa University Mavericks!
Fees are apportioned on the basis of the benefit each fee payer receives from the utility.
While tax exempt organizations that benefit from utilities cannot be made exempt from fees created to fund them, property tax exempt organizations are by law exempt from mill levies.
Replacing the fee with a mill levy to fund the stormwater utility would address the Chamber’s concerns. Churches, nonprofits and governmental organizations would be exempt from the mill levy. Working with the Chamber and other friends, we could make the case both for the necessity of ensuring that we are all safe from the ravages of stormwater along with the fairness of paying for the utility with a mill levy instead of with a fee.
Stormwater was added to GVDD’s responsibilities in State Statutes in 1983 and remains one of its core responsibilities. No one was coming forth to work with GVDD to solve the funding problem. No one was building the stormwater system necessary to protect the Grand Valley. The fee was imposed by GVDD after two unsuccessful mill levy requests.
I served as Mayor Pro Tem of the Town of Palisade for eight years, serving that entire time on the board of 5-2-1, six of those years as 5-2-1 chair.
As the Palisade representative, I have been on the executive board of the Colorado Municipal League for 6 years, this past year as its Vice Chair.
I have attended meetings, trainings and workshops of the Colorado Stormwater Council, and sessions at the Colorado Municipal League and the Special District Association on stormwater and public works.
I am a Certified Public Accountant, and an attorney with an LLM Master of Laws (cum laude) in Administrative Law and Taxation. I have an MBA from the University of St Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.