The Colorado Springs Mayor's office has presented the proposed 2023 budget to city council with a continued emphasis on increasing public safety.
Of the total $420 million in planned expenditures, more than $2.5 million is set aside for more police officers, police vehicles and firefighters. Suthers also proposed an additional $11.3 million for salary increases for all civilian and sworn employees, which includes police and fire.
In his annual state of the city address last month, Suthers said that as the city continues to grow in both population and geography, it will be "daunting" for public safety resources to keep up.
The city currently has 803 authorized positions for police officers. Next year's proposed allocation would allow for 15 more. Citing a recent study by the city, Suthers said the force will need to exceed 1,000 officers by 2035.
The Keep it Clean COS campaign is another high-priority item included in the proposed budget. The plan calls for $928,000 for new positions to "combat litter and clean up streets and medicines." The city spent $2 million to launch the project last year.
The budget also included funding to sustain the number of shelter beds for the city's homeless population. Starting in 2020, Colorado Springs set aside $500,000 each year to provide a high number of "low-barrier" beds. That means those who are intoxicated can access the shelter, as long as they don't use drugs or alcohol on the premises.
Colorado Springs is the 39th largest city in America with a population of nearly 500,000 people, according to Suthers.
Other expenditures, as defined by the city, identified in the budget are as follows:
- $3.1 million for increased staffing across several city departments to address expanding demand for services, including additional staff for Parks, Recreation and Cultural services to provide two positions for Garden of the Gods park and four rangers for urban park and trail safety, and for Public Works to provide 12 positions to address state mandated utility locates and address increased service demands related to city growth;
- $1.57 million continued funding for the City’s Americans with Disabilities Act operating and capital programs, including a new Language Access Coordinator;
- $1.2 million additional funding to Mountain Metro Transit for increased contract and other operating costs to sustain transit services
- $10.1 million to fund increased rates for insurance premiums, fuel, and utility services, as well as contractual increases, including animal law enforcement services and election costs
- $74.3 million of voter-approved 2C2 funding for road and street improvements, which includes the replacement of deteriorated adjacent curb, gutter, sidewalk and pedestrian ramps
- $33.95 million of capital improvements at the Colorado Springs Airport
Colorado Springs City Council members will take a closer look at the proposed budget later this month. A public hearing and town hall is set for 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 24.
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.