Budget projections. For Colorado Springs in 2010, it looks pretty bleak.
Just check out the city’s Web page. You can’t avoid the numbers or the city’s efforts to convince voters to approve a property tax increase on Nov. 3 to avoid drastic cuts. Here’s an example of the city’s efforts to educate voters on how little they pay in sales tax compared to other cities.
Income from sales taxes and other sources is in a free-fall. The city planned to spend about $237 million from its general fund in 2010. Now, it is projecting a $25.4 million shortfall in revenue.
Everyone knows the greatest savings are achieved through reductions in personnel. And you are probably thinking: look, the city has 1,800 employees. How hard can it be to save $25.4 million?
Really hard if you take 1,200 employees out of the equation.
That’s how many police and firefighters are on the city payroll. Voters don’t like cuts in public safety. And politicians like to brag about all the new cops and firefighters they put on the streets.
That leaves just 600 city staffers to shoulder the cuts. And, again, nobody likes to see their pothole fillers and snowplow drivers cut. Here’s a look at the budget pie. The big slice is police and fire. The smaller slice is every other department in city government.
So the budget ax is taking aim at so-called “non-essential” services like parks, recreation and cultural services. I guess that’s true, if you consider quality of life a “non-essential” item. Check out these numbers.
That agency has 216 folks work to maintain six community centers, seven pool complexes, the ice center, museum, historic sites and thousands of acres of parks from Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon down to dozens of neighborhood parks.
Who needs them? I’m guessing there isn’t anyone reading this who doesn’t use one or more of the facilities on that list.