Colorado Springs City Council Meeting
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I would like to start this report off by saying that I have never been to city council meeting before, even though my father was the mayor, and still serves on city council back in my home town of Kingsford, Michigan. I found this experience both interesting and exhausting to see and understand the scope of the council’s role and responsibilities in keeping this city running. All members of council must have to have a very extensive education and background in finance and public administration even in mid-sized city like Colorado Springs. I couldn’t imagine the business required in a major metropolitan city.
The Meeting open with the city accountant presenting a general financials report. She spent most of her time reporting on the expenditures the city is required to pay out to Memorial Health system, which from the way they were speaking I understood there was some sort of legal settlement they have to pay out on. Also discussed the cost of some handicapped access renovations to the hospital and the building codes at certain access points according to the current plans, and the costs to the city to execute these plans. There was also a request asking for a $500,000 increase to fix some required drainage repairs, to install some slip lines to cover failing copper water lines on Powers Avenue. And the last specific Item they discussed during this time was the cost and procedure of doing the mail in ballots for the April 2015 elections.
The Item was 8.B.14-0702, an ordinance to amend ordinance number 13-77 for supplemental appropriations to Memorial health System in the amount of $600,000. The way I understood this was there was a previous appropriation of supplemental funds to the hospital and they were going to fall short $600,000 before the end of the year. So they were requesting an addition supplemental appropriation to get them through to the end of this calendar year.
Next was 7.A 14-0440, which was a briefing from the Pikes Peak Regional Business Alliance. This was a generic briefing on the current local economy, the local GDP and how the two biggest industries in the area are doing, aerospace and health and welfare. Neither seem to be growing at all according to his briefing if I understood it correctly. He did report that a recreational air show company from San Diego, California has contracted hangers at the Colorado Springs airport as of December 1st and are moving here because they will not have to pay the taxes that they have to pay in California. They will be bringing about 50 would war II fighter planes to store here, and will require about 40 contract employees to maintain the aircraft.
The council member got excited about this, and cited the job creation, however from my understanding on contract jobs they usually bring their own people or recruit people with the specific skill sets to contract from outside the community. With this being an Air Force community hopefully they can fill some of these contracts locally otherwise I’m not sure it’s anything other than a small political flag to fly, and it doesn’t seem as though it is something that really benefits the community here, but just benefits the company by relocating here for tax benefit.
The last item I was able to stay for and I found the most interesting was 7.D. 14-0731, a briefing by a relocation specialist realtor about home value comparisons in our market compared to other mid-sized cities and how we can use that to market big business to move to Colorado Springs instead of other cities we compete with to improve our economy. This briefing created some very heated conversation with some members of counsel. What this gentleman was saying was that the average coast of a house in Colorado Springs was much lower than some of the cities such as: Kansas City, Oklahoma City, San Jose, Austin, and Des Moines. These are the cities we are apparently in the consideration pool for when companies consider relocation. He cited the other reasons that companies are not choosing Colorado spring is infrastructure and recreational activities. Meaning that Colorado spring does not do enough to grow infrastructure with the population, and does not have enough recreational business to attract big business to relocate here, and suggested that we do thing like raise some taxes to fix these problems to attract companies, so that we can exploit the fact that housing is so much cheaper than other cities that companies consider over us.
Council members seemed offended by these suggestions, especially the tax increase suggestion, and didn’t seem open minded to this briefing as a whole. The issue of Intel leaving Colorado Springs came up under this context. The counsel’s rejection of this briefing seemed unusual to me politically coming from the east coast, these are ideas we would embrace. So this conversation was very interesting to watch, it was entertaining to see a different ideology in play. Unfortunately I had to leave after this last issue was addressed due to another commitment for family. But it was a very interesting and educational experience for me. I agree that citizens should attend these meeting so that they are educated, and more involved in what is going on with their locally elected officials and the state of their city. It is also a good way to hold elected officials accountable, I don’t see any other way to really know what going on at a local level. I will probably attend meeting on my own time in the future.