Colorado Springs pushing limits on cutting city services

Friday, February 5, 2010

How much service should we expect from our city government?

It's a question city councillors struggle with every budget season and city administrators deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Now one of the bright spots on the front range of the Colorado Rockies -- Colorado Springs -- is finding out just how far city services can be cut.

According to the Denver Post, a third of the streetlights are being shut off, police helicopters are for sale on the Internet, and the city is dropping firefighter jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators and beat cops.

Trash cans are gone from the parks, and visitors are urged to pack out their own litter. Green spaces are being left unmown for weeks at a time, with concerned neighbors welcome to use their own mowers on the plots.

And don't look for green city parks next summer -- water, flower and fertilizer budgets have been cut to nothing. City recreation centers, pools and some museums will close unless private funding has been found.

Street construction won't be a problem next summer; there's no budget for it, other than a regional authority that can pay for only 10 percent of the needed repairs. And, buses won't run on evenings or weekends any longer.

The problem, of course, is taxes. Sales tax receipts were down almost $22 million from 2007 to 2010, and in November, voters resounding defeated a plan to triple property taxes and restore $27.6 million to the city's $212 million general fund budget.

The reason, of course, is a general mistrust of government, and figures quoted in the Post article didn't help. While each worker costs the luxury Broadmore $24,000 a year, the city pays $89,000 for each employee.

Who will blink first? Will the taxpayers relent and fork over more money for better services, or will the city find ways to provide acceptable services for the money it has.

With tight budgets across the nation, Colorado Springs will be an interesting case study to observe in the coming years.

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  • Why worry about Colorado Springs????? Is it even in the USA.

    Just raise the taxes and let the smart rich folks pay the bill. Sounds like colorado is getting what they Need!!!!!

    -- Posted by Just a reader on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 5:51 PM
  • Typical of the jerks that run any type of gubment. Instead of cutting management and salaries which is what a private business will do in lean times they cut out everything that actually benefits the public in a game of see what will happen if you don't let us increase your taxes.

    triple property taxes? That should be defeated and the jerks should be voted out of office who created this situation. 89K a year for a gubment bureaucrat?

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 10:38 AM
  • I'd wish Chaco could or would cite just one business that confronted its financial problems with cuts at the management or executive level rather than the usual decreasing of workers wages and benefits. I'd love to see the case study of those businesses.The jerks who created this situation would be the rigorously conservative government of the city that is home to Dobson's Focus on the Family and its campus so large it requires its own zip code and a population which enthusiastically supported the TABOR amendment, perhaps the most destructive financial measure since California's Prop 13.Basically it's the result of too many people looking out for their own narrow, short-term self-interests instead of realizing we all live in in one society connected to one another whether we desire to be or not.I suppose those who cannot adapt to that reality could find some place to experiment with their own anarchic form of perfect individual liberty in governing.Might be an interesting experiment to watch from a safe distance especially as long as they didn't demand water, sewer, police, ambulance or other services from the larger society within which the experiment was taking place.

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 10:24 AM
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