Colorado Springs plans for limited revenue in 2024 and increases pay for police, firefighters in approved budget

Colorado Springs. May 31, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colorado Springs. May 31, 2022.

Colorado Springs City Council approved the 2024 budget this week, cutting costs across departments and pulling in $10 million of reserve funds. Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade first presented the budget in October.

The $428.3 million general fund plan calls for $7.2 million more in spending than the 2023 budget, a 1.7 percent increase. General fund dollars pay for all city activities supported by taxes with revenue from license and permit fees, fines, and intergovernmental revenue. 

The city is also budgeting for close to $473 million in additional expenditures through special revenue and enterprise funds, as well as grants. Revenue in those categories comes from special improvement districts, trusts, and certain taxes, among other things.

Combined, the city of Colorado Springs plans to spend roughly $900 million in 2024.

Just over 70 percent of the total general fund will be used for salaries, benefits, and pensions for city employees. The plan sets aside nearly $9 million for pay increases for some city employees, including all sworn police and fire employees and those in the 9-1-1 call center. It also includes more than $230,000 to fund salaries for five full-time employees for the Colorado Springs Fire Department's Homeless Outreach Program (HOP). The project was previously partially grant-funded.

“The city’s 2024 budget prioritizes the most important needs of our residents to help make Colorado Springs an inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe, and vibrant city on a hill,” said Mobolade in a press release.

Over one-third of the planned spending for 2024 will go to the Colorado Springs Police Department. The fire department and office of emergency management are the next highest funded areas, followed by public works, the mayor's office, and recreation & cultural Services.

Mobolade said the decision to cut spending and pull from reserves was not easy.

"Costs are up, inflation is high, and we’re forecasting flattening sales tax. That is why we made prudent cuts across city departments to help make the most of taxpayer dollars while maintaining our ability to provide excellent city services,” Mobolade said.

Sales and use tax revenues for 2024 are expected to be around $252.7 million, a roughly 2.5 percent increase from end-of-year forecasts for 2023. About half of the general fund comes from sales tax revenues.

Each city department will see a 3.4 percent reduction in spending, a move that saves the city $11.9 million, but also means foregoing hiring, reducing temporary staff, and, in some cases, eliminating overtime pay. A note in the 2024 budget says existing staff will experience an increased workload and that delays in city processes are possible.

The city also plans to cap its 2024 property tax rate for residents.

The budget also identifies opportunities that could ease future financial planning. A few items listed in the report include tourism growth, Space Force Command choosing Colorado Springs as its headquarters, and land annexation.