TO THE CITIZENS OF COLORADO SPRINGS
We write today with a united, fervent appeal from the region’s two largest newspapers.
In light of our city government’s latest budget shortfall for 2010, producing an anticipated $25 million in reduced or eliminated services, programs and jobs, we share deep concerns for the potentially disastrous effects on our quality of life.
At the same time, we concur that presently, our city has only a single viable path to avoid such a catastrophic impact next year: This fall, Colorado Springs voters must not only endorse the proposed property tax increase, but also defeat Doug Bruce’s destructive measure on the same ballot.
Therefore, in an unprecedented action, we are presenting our separate cases in tandem, printing side-by-side editorials from our separate perspectives that both reach the same conclusion.
We have set aside our many differences to graphically illustrate how important it is for citizens to vote this fall to ensure the short- and long-term health of the city we call home.
For the sake of our community, join with us to help save our city from a terrible — yet still avoidable — fate.
Steven K. Pope
Over the years the Independent and The Gazette have often disagreed on which services are necessities for the city of Colorado Springs to support and on how the city should finance municipal obligations. Even in times when we have agreed, our newspapers have always chosen to express agreeing opinions each in our own fashion and in our respective publications.
This occasion is different. We are jointly and strongly encouraging our readers to support the mill levy increase proposed by Councilwoman Jan Martin on the ballot this November. We are also strongly encouraging you not to support the irresponsible initiative pushed onto the ballot by Douglas Bruce.
We do not take the action of combining our editorial voices lightly. We have chosen this path due to the dire financial situation the city faces. Without passage of the mill levy, the city will be required to cut programs and services that should not be touched. These cuts would directly impact the current quality of life in our city, would detrimentally impact services that keep us all safe, and would make it very difficult for us to grow out of the current economic malaise.
Over the past five fiscal years the combined per capita property and sales tax burden has declined approximately 7 percent when adjusted for inflation and population growth. The decline will be worse in 2009 and there is little evidence that it will improve significantly in 2010. Even before currently proposed cuts, public safety expenditures have declined 3 percent on an adjusted basis. Cultural and recreation expenses along with expenses for urban redevelopment and housing and economic development have also taken significant cuts.
These cuts will be dramatically more severe next year unless we all join together and pass the mill levy.
We are not a newspaper with a history of supporting tax and spend initiatives. We are proud of the fact that Colorado Springs has one of the lowest tax rates in the state and that Colorado as a state has one of the lowest tax rates in the country.
We do however support the mill levy initiative on this November’s ballot due to our firm belief that it is essential to the health of our city and the welfare of our fellow citizens.
Council members also do not take tax increases lightly, and they have pledged to eliminate the city’s business personal property tax if this ballot measure passes, which would eliminate one obstacle to investment by local businesses. We need your help in getting this measure passed.
We also need to make sure we do not allow the situation to be made worse through wrong-headed initiatives. The Bruce ballot measure would be questionable in the best of times. In these financial times for our city, it is worse than foolish.
This is a dire situation. Please join us in supporting the mill levy and join us in opposing the Bruce initiative.
Talk to your neighbors and ask them to help. If you are not registered to vote please do so and make your voice heard this November.
We know that mill levy considerations in times that are difficult for all of us are not popular but we cannot allow our safety and future to fall by the wayside.
Read the Independent's editorial at http://www.csindy.com/colorado/message-to-our-readers/Content?oid=1425860