The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to the 2013 budget without drawing down reserves, honoring a request from Mayor Steve Bach.
Rather than dipping into the city’s rainy day fund to balance the budget as it indicated Monday it might, the council decided to make up a $982,590 deficit by cutting that amount from the Parks Department. But the council intends to restore that funding during the year.
The plan is twofold.
First, the council will support a planned April ballot question that would modify the TOPS tax, increasing funding to the city by $500,000.
Second, the council, which also serves as the Utilities Board, will work to establish a water rate or tariff for city-owned parks to close a $545,000 gap.
“I’m a little worried about the message we’re sending that we’re taking out of parks. But I want to emphasize very strongly that we’re putting two significant markers on the table,” council President Scott Hente said.
Bill Koerner, advocacy director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, said he was concerned about the parks budget.
“I understand that you’re going to make good on getting the (water) tariff reduced, at least that’s what I hear, and I’m counting on you to do it,” he said.
City Councilman Merv Bennett pledged to work on the water tariff.
“I think we have an opportunity to work with an urgency that can help us drive to a decision,” he said. “I have sensed a willingness from Utilities to work with us on this. I can’t say that I sensed that when I first came on council, so I think we have a golden opportunity here.”
The vote to pass the budget on first reading was 8-0. City Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko left the meeting early and didn’t vote.