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Proposed 2018 Colorado Springs budget includes increases for police and fire salaries, parks budget and fleet replacement

October 2, 2017 Updated: October 2, 2017 at 8:01 pm
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FILE - Colorado Springs Fire Department firefighters spent the morning Tuesday, July 12, 2016 training at vacant houses on North Nevada Ave. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers on Monday proposed a $288.9 million budget for the city's 2018 general fund, but that's subject to change.

The proposal includes $5.5 million in pay raises for police and firefighters, $750,000 toward a landscaping project at Interstate 25 and Cimarron Avenue and a $1.2 million boost for city fleet replacement.

The City Council must approve the budget before it is finalized, but first Suthers will submit another budget proposal based on prospects if voters approve stormwater fees in the Nov. 7 election. The fees would free an estimated $17 million now spent on stormwater obligations. They would last 20 years, charging homeowners $5 a month and nonresidential property owners $30 a month for every acre they own.

The budget Suthers submitted Monday assumes voters don't approve the fees; the next version will assume the issue passes, providing $17 million more to hire police and fire personnel and to update the city's vehicle fleet, Suthers repeatedly has said.

City officials will tweak the budget in months to come, Council Administrator Eileen Gonzalez said. Presentations will be made to council members Oct. 16, and a town hall meeting will be held Oct. 19.

In past years, council members have met to mark up the budget in early November and to offer their opinions and suggestions and talk with city staff. But with the election looming Nov. 7, the mark-up sessions have been postponed until later that month, Gonzalez said.

Councilman Don Knight said he supports the budget draft and its suggestions, which include a $900,000 increase to the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

"A lot of people out there might say it still doesn't bring us up to the full (parks) funding where we were before the depression," Knight said.

But overall, the budget is balanced and recommends good changes, said Knight, chairman of the city Finance Committee. The second draft likely will make small changes to allow increases in police, fire and public works departments, among others, he said.

Several other council members said they had not had a chance to read the 640-page proposal. Others could not immediately be reached for comment.

A full copy of the proposed 2018 budget is available at coloradosprings.gov/2018budget.

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