Monday, July 5, 2010

Ghost town or COAST town?

Remember this article about how Colorado Springs was supposedly going to become a ghost town after voting not to increase taxes? It hasn’t happened yet.

In fact, folks are stepping up, pitching in, and Colorado Springs is becoming a more tightly knit community as a result. The buses stop running at 6:15 p.m. now, and most streetlights stay dark throughout the night. Three city pools have shut down, and turf is withering in more than 100 parks.

So a local swim club has taken over some of the pools. Volunteers pick up trash in parks. Those who can afford it, pay extra to turn on the streetlights in front of their own houses. "The best thing is we have all gotten to know each other much better," one resident said. "We're going to have a big party at the end of the summer."

The government is shrinking, citizens are picking up the slack, and it's transforming Colorado Springs into a libertarian paradise.

Just seven months ago, municipal officials laid out details of a desperate financial situation. Revenues were down about $16 million. That amount, and enough to cover $8 million more in rising pension and health care costs, had to be whacked from the 2010 budget. It was the second year in a row of major shortfalls. Read more here.

FWIW, Colorado Springs’ population is  414,000 people. Their city general fund budget is $238 million. Contrast that with Cincinnati at about 330,000 people and $365 million. Overview here. They have no rail of any kind, only a tiny bus system, but they get around quite well on a network of modern highways.

What’s most fun about Colorado Springs though, is that they have a COAST-like group that is absolutely driving the government crazy. Some rich guy paid to collect more than 400,000 signatures to put 3 issues on the statewide ballot. Amendment 60 is aimed at lowering or eliminating  property taxes; Amendment 61 seeks to restrict borrowing by state and local governments; and Proposition 101, seeks to reduce the state income tax, reduce taxes and fees on motor vehicles, and end taxes and charges on telecommunications.

Now they’re thumbing their noses at the campaign finance reporting requirements, and got hit with $6000 in fines. They remain obstinate, and the issues remain on this November’s ballot. Go Colorado Springs!


  1. Greg Harris sent me a tweet asking about number of employees for both cities.

    Colorado Springs employs 1888. Reference here (page 9 of PDF). Cincinnati has a staggering staffing level of 6151. Reference here (page 46 of PDF).

    Bear in mind the Springs serves a populatio 1/3 larger than ours with 1/3 less budget. No wonder they've grown by 16% in the last dozen years. More bang for your tax bucks.

  2. Ah, yes, the haves & have nots. Your home can be more secure because you can pay for the streetlight out front. Tough luck to those on the unlit streets.

    This blog post from SouthernBeale gives us a chance to see the underbelly of your utopia:

    Folks having to leave jobs they can no longer get to because there is no bus service?

    We as a nation once took pride in providing civic services, understanding fully that we all shared the burden of these things which made our communities better. Today in the COAST world, it's every man for himself and nuts to the rest. We have no responsibility for one another and our community.

  3. The haves and have nots. Are you talking about the YP snobs who will be able to afford their new hip $300 K condos along the trolley route and the poor mostly minority folks that will be driven out to make way for them?

    As for your contention that things are so shitty in Co Springs, then why are they GROWING exponentially in population? Sertainoy with such a dangerous, seemy underbelly people would be leaving in droves to live in high tax communities where all of these lovely things like streetcars can be provided for them.

  4. What is wrong with us demanding a $200 million streetcar, something for ourselves so we can travel apart from the poor people and minorities who populate those putrid buses? We deserve something just for us.

  5. Joe M,

    Long ago, Cincinnatians too shut off their streetlights in the spirit of frugality to make it through a tough time. You can read about it here in the sidebar.

    You'll no doubt approve of it in that case, since it involves publicly funded rail.

  6. I'm not suggesting that there aren't times when belt tightening isn't called for and, for that matter, admirable. But your general philosophy effectively is that ALL taxes are bad and that's part of what puts us in the bind we are. As a city, as a county, we're unable to have a discussion about taxation without anti-tax zealots saying No to every and any tax.

    It's ironic that you use this example of when the city had to scrimp for a genuinely great investment that continues to pay dividends to this day (unless we do something stupid and sell off this profitable railroad). I suspect your great-great grandfathers were marching throughout the city saying it was a boondoggle.

    The fact remains that there are sometimes dire consequences to anti-tax fervor that hit the poorest of our society. I suspect Colorado Springs residents will some day rue the day they decided to be a COAST utopia.

  7. Joe -
    COAST doesn't oppose all taxes. All you have to do is go back to the last election endorsements to see that COAST choose to remain neutral on several tax levies. I know this fact flies in the face of your anti-COAST hate rhetoric, but you might want to try to get your facts straight.

  8. I've never heard them say they approve of a tax measure. That's different. While I understand that not coming out against one could be tantamount to approving, it's not the same. It's partially why we have such horrible public discourse viz taxation. But there's no queastion there philosophy is anti-tax. Otherwise why would they make it essential that candidates who want their endorsement must pledge not to raise taxes. That's fairly unequivocal, don't you think? And it leaves our communities hamstrung to have such options off the table.

  9. I wonder if the colorado TOAST group is populated by deadbeats who don't pay their bills and have their bank accounts garnished and houses foreclosed upon and sold at sheriff's auction?

  10. Why don't all of you TOAST nutters fuck off and move to colorado springs? You can have you own little ayn randian wingnutistan paradise.

    PS- game over boys, the streetcar is a done deal. You lost. Again. Now we will all point and laugh at you. Again.

  11. Joe -
    If you really wonder why there's such a horrible public discourse viz taxation just read the two posts above mine. They say it all.

  12. I think that this entry is so incredulous you guys should consider erasing it. Colorado Springs has 5 military bases and it is estimated that 1 in 3 individuals there get their livelihood from military related vocations. Here is an article about how in 2000-2001 the federal government pumped 2.67 billion dollars into the Colorado Springs economy:

    This "utopia" is all being funded by the U.S. taxpayer. The U.S. military is the largest socialized program in the country. This "utopia" is a socially-driven product, not some miracle of libertarian values. It is actually appalling that incomes can be rising and people aren't civic minded enough to consider the broader community. If this is what America is about, there is no "we the people" anymore.

  13. Here's another article from 2004 about Bush's increase in military spending that helped Colorado Springs in 2004:

    And this more current one that outlines that the government teet might be drying up for Colorado Springs due to economic hardship:

    We'll wait to see what happens to CS in the next couple years without the long sustained influx of taxpayer money.

    Consider this: the US now spends more on military than the rest of the world combined. That means when you add up all of Russia's, China's, Europe's, Middle East's expenditures, they don't equal the US.
    Want to save a dime? Lose the Empire and quit squabbling over street lights for our poor neighborhoods!

  14. John Fox, CityBeat PublisherJuly 13, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    What Zionist deleted my post! I should have the free speech rights to say that I hope Colorado Springs doesn't have any Jews. You are in the pocket of the Jewish-run media (except for my beloved CityBeat).


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