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Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers congratulates parks director Karen Palus as early results of Ballot Issue 2B: Allow city to keep $7 million for parks is passing during a watch party at Phantom Canyon Brewing in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

In an instant, the Colorado Springs City Council approved the city’s $331.1 million general fund budget for 2020.

The unanimous vote Tuesday morning came as a part of the council’s consent calendar, which is typically reserved for decisions without controversy so the group can approve them all with a single vote.

The streamlined budget process has continued since last year, when the council approved the budget with only minor changes. The council also canceled its annual budget markup meeting last year, for what is believed to be the first time, exemplifying the streamlined process and cooperation between Mayor John Suthers and the city’s lawmakers.

This year, minor transportation and parks budget changes were requested by the council.

“I’m pleased with the continued collaboration with the City Council in keeping our city on a positive financial trajectory,” Suthers said. “I work closely with the council throughout the year to establish priorities and share funding needs, so by the time we reach budget review, there really are no surprises.”

While the council approved the 2020 budget Tuesday, a second vote, scheduled for this month, is needed to cement the deal.

The budget would provide $9.65 million to boost pay for police, firefighters and civilian employees, plus $4.4 million to hire 20 police officers and eight firefighters.

Those salary boosts and new hires nearly match this year’s budget, continuing the trend of higher salaries for sworn and civilian police and fire staff and hiring officers and firefighters over a five-year span.

That money is part of Suthers’ promise to pay those employees more and hire 120 sworn officers and 32 firefighters. By the end of next year, he has said, the city will have added 93 officers and 24 firefighters.

Additional, new hires for the Fire Department will allow the public information officer, medical lieutenant, training division captain and captain of emergency management return to their regular duties. Those employees were assigned to firetrucks in September after the fire chief shifted nearly $1 million of the department’s funds to remain within the allocated 2019 budget.

Unexpected overtime costs were blamed for the issue and new hires are expected to help the department cut overtime.

Firefighters would also get a new $1 million ladder truck in the deal.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services will receive a $1.45 million boost for parks watering and a $400,000 bump for recreational and cultural services needs.

That money will be joined by up to $7 million in excess tax revenue the city is allowed to keep, after voters approved Question 2B on the Nov. 5 ballot. The cash will be split between the city’s historic parks: Antlers, Acacia and Alamo Square/Pioneers Museum. And millions more will go to Monument Valley Park, Homestead, Mesa and Sand Creek trails, Cottonwood Community Park and the city’s cemeteries, among other places.

Other allotments for next year include:

$1.4 million for the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act program and operating costs.

$1.3 million for the city’s information technology infrastructure, applications and cybersecurity improvements,

$550,000 for vehicle replacement,

$500,000 for shelter beds,

$300,000 for Mountain Metro Transit.

The entire budget can be found online at coloradosprings.gov/budget.

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