PR31C is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
No spending = no tax revenue
full story here
The buses stop running at 6:15 p.m. now, and most streetlights stay dark throughout the night. Three city pools have shut down, and turf is withering in more than 100 parks.
Just seven months ago, municipal officials laid out details of a desperate financial situation. Revenues were down about $16 million. That amount, and enough to cover $8 million more in rising pension and health care costs, had to be whacked from the 2010 budget. It was the second year in a row of major shortfalls.
Next, safety may become a concern. The city fire department is down 20 firefighters this year; the police department has 42 fewer cops on the streets. For both fire and police, there are no classes of recruits in training, which is unusual.
"In the last year and a half, we went from being a proactive, problem-solving to a reactive police department, to where we only go when we are called," said Pete Tomitsch, president of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.
"There is a lot of frustration within the department. There is a whole slew of calls we don't respond to that a year and a half ago we did."
If thieves break into a car or home and steal stuff — a felony — the report is usually taken over the phone now.
"Our property-crime detectives have been cut by over half," he said. "When people call the police, they want somebody to show up on their doorstep, and we can't do that."
Municipal budgets are in rough shape in cities across the state. Why are things especially difficult in Colorado Springs?
City financial services manager Kara Skinner speculated that the problem, ultimately, hinges on the people of the city shutting their wallets during the economic downturn. They stopped buying things, and revenues from sales taxes, which constitute half of the city budget, declined dramatically between 2007 and 2009. During one 21-month period, 19 months hauled in less than the previous year.
Creating class division?
Not every neighborhood in the city, though, is streetlight- stingy. Nor is every median brown, or each park without trash cans.
So far, about 900 lights have been "adopted" by Colorado Springs residents — a fee was paid, and the light was turned back on.
In some cases, services can be restored through volunteer labor. Residents adopted more than 100 trash cans in parks by agreeing to empty them.
But the escalating costs for residents, along with other aspects of the budget cutting, are unfair, said City Councilwoman Jan Martin, who grew up in Colorado Springs.
"These medians and parks that are being adopted are in wealthy neighborhoods," she said. "We are seeing the creation of a community of haves and have nots."
Possibly coming to a town near you when 2011 tax increases kill spending.
"A politician sees his family everyday; a deployed soldier once in 6 months or a year. A politician flies 1st class; a soldier flies in a C130. A politician's pension is not reduced; a soldier's is clawed 65%. A politician enjoys an expense account; a soldier must justify extra rations. A politician vows to defend their country; a soldier actually keeps that promise."
"Beware of fake quotes on the Internet." -- Abraham Lincoln.