• Colorado Springs Walks the Walk

      Many cities bum rush towards bankruptcy, raising taxes instead of cutting spending, but one city – Colorado Springs – has drawn the line. When sales tax revenues dropped, voters were asked to make up the shortfall by tripling their property taxes. Voters emphatically said no, despite the threat of reduced services. Those cuts have now arrived.

      More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

      The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

      Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks…

      City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open.

      I bet they do find private funding. That and community involvement is a better solution than throwing more money to government bureaucrats. A private enterprise task force is focusing on the real problem; the city’s soaring pension and health care costs for city employees.

      Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each.

      Good question, and also the subject of my Fox Business Network show tonight. Government employee unions are a big reason cities spend themselves into bankruptcy. Some union workers in Colorado Springs make it clear that they are not volunteering to help solve the budget problems.

      (A) small fraction of city employees have made perfectly clear they won’t stand for pay cuts, no matter what happens to the people who pay their wages. The attitude of a loud minority of employees, toward local taxpayers, sometimes sounds like “(expletive) them.”

      Maybe those workers should sense change in the air. Colorado Springs residents understand that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it. And if a rec center has to be closed, or the cops lose their helicopters, or government workers get a pay cut, so be it.

      TAGS
      Economy
      Government
      Labor
      Waste