New police officers and fire personnel, funding for the Fire Department’s Homeless Outreach Program (HOP) and new positions to help keep the city clean.
Those are just some of the highlights from the 2023 City budget that Colorado Springs City Council is currently reviewing and will need to approve before the end of the year. The second and final vote of the proposed budget will take place Dec. 13.
Creating and approving a balanced budget is vital for accomplishing the City’s priorities over the next year and ensuring tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Mayor John Suthers has said that across all departments and functions, the City has an obligation to its residents to continue to provide excellent services and as such, the 2023 budget includes high priority items to enhance and improve the City’s ability to serve residents.
In early October, the mayor submitted a balanced City budget of $421 million, which is $24.0 million or 6.1 percent more than the 2022 budget. Why the increase? It was mostly due to a projected increase in sales tax revenue of 13 percent along with $11.9 million that was rebudgeted from last year.
Once the mayor presents the budget, council reviews it and makes any changes it thinks are appropriate.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important additions to the 2023 budget
- 15 new sworn police positions as well as new vehicles.
- 32 new sworn fire positions for two new fire stations (Fire Station 24 in the northeast part of the city and the inclusion of the existing fire station in Colorado Centre as Fire Station 25 in the southeast)
- Dedicated funding for the Fire Department’s HOP, which is comprised of a mental health worker and Fire Department paramedic. Team members are trained behavioral health providers with combined experience in mental and medical health assessment, treatment, education and care.
- 11 new positions and equipment that were added this spring as part of the Keep It Clean COS campaign to combat litter and clean up streets and medians.
- 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 12 new positions in Public Works .
- Continued funding to support shelter bed operations for the homeless population.
That list is just a snapshot. The budget also provides critical funding for road and street improvements, Downtown security, our community’s homelessness response, fixing our stormwater infrastructure, and funding for arts, sports and cultural organizations.
When building the annual budget there is always competition between the need to invest in our facilities, infrastructure and services, and the need to build reserves for emergencies to withstand an economic downturn. Just like any family budget, you want to have a safety net in case the budget tightens up.
While the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends a “rainy day fund” of 16.7 percent of the following year’s expenditure budget, the mayor has set a higher goal of attaining a fund balance of 20 percent, and the City is expected to meet that goal by the end of 2023.
The 2023 Budget document provides residents an overview of the City’s resources and costs of providing core municipal services. The document also provides very specific line-item expenditure details so that residents can see the City’s specific spending plans. If you want to know more, you can see the complete proposed 2023 budget at coloradosprings.gov/budget.