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Dream City 2020 Brown Bag Lunch – Monday, October 5, 2009
Penrose Library – Carnegie Room

More than 45 people gathered at the Penrose Library on Monday, Oct. 5 to participate in a Dream City Brown Bag Lunch to discuss community resources. Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jan Martin and former State Senator Andy McElhany provided a brief introduction to the topic and answered questions before the attendees began a facilitated discussion in small groups to talk about three key questions:

Are things like public transportation, city parks and community centers luxuries or necessities?

Does our communal assessment change depending on the current economic conditions?
If we deem these things necessities, how should we pay for them?

A consolidation of the central thoughts of the group is below. The feedback was posted to the Dream City web site at www.DreamCity2020.org, sent to all event participants, forwarded to the media, and then emailed to Colorado Springs City Council members and El Paso County Commissions.

Future Dream City Brown Bag events will be scheduled as topical issues present themselves for broader community dialogue.

Questions for Facilitated Discussions

Are things like public transportation, city parks and community centers luxuries or necessities?

  • If we just want a community that is the bare basics – then they are luxuries.  If we want more for our community – they are necessary.
  • They are key to a healthy community.
  • We are a family oriented community; we need to support services that are family friendly.
  • I would hate to see community centers close.  They are well used.
  • We are well known for our parks.  It is a strength.  We should support them.
  • What is the cost if we let the parks go brown?  Economic cost does not make sense.  Is anyone looking at that?
  • These are proper functions of City Government.
  • Public transportation seems like a necessity.
  • Parks – Attraction to new people, businesses and individuals.
  • Lack of parks would affect home values.
  • Transportation – Our economy relies on public transportation.
  • Community Centers are necessity.
  • Public Safety is a necessity.
  • All are necessary long term.
  • Public transportation is a necessity for a number of different people.
  • Parks are the reason we’re here.  They provide a place for kids and sports teams.
  • Funding public safety is important to reduce response times and crime rates.
  • It is important to preserve our history i.e. Pioneer’s Museum.
  • Amenities add to the quality of life and economic development.
  • A strong, sound infrastructure is essential.
  • Incorporate in future growth – seeking balance.
  • Certain City services can not survive coming and going.
  • Public transit, public safety, health department, community centers are all important programs.  Programs for the disabled, at-risk seniors and low income individuals are essential.
  • Park and recreation programs and museums are essential.
  • Maintaining facilities is important.
  • Public transportation, community centers, safety are all part of human need.  Common good high on value system.
  • All are essential to quality of life.  Universal access.
  • Health care is significantly impacted by reduced public transportation.
  • Need ability to attract new, reliable companies & technologies.  Our ability is limited if parks, outdoor displays etc. are reduced.  Unable to eliminate anymore.  Have been cutting parks already for past 3 years.
  • Difficult to maintain standard of living as city expands.
  • Are we willing to accept reduced response times for police & fire? –not a luxury it is a necessity.
  • Community centers are important especially for underserved populations
  • Public Transportation is a necessity.

Does our communal assessment change depending on the current economic conditions?
  • Is community willing to make cut backs to reflect economic situation. Necessity=Life issue.  Dependent on current resources=luxury.
  • Do we change?
  • Once cuts are made it is hard to get anything back or recover losses.
  • If this is a city that wants to make these cuts – I will need to look for another city.
  • I don’t want to see these cuts but might like to see other cuts.

If we deem these things necessities, how should we pay for them?
  • Are we appropriately taxed?
  • Property taxes should reflect what citizens use/expect from city services.
  • There is never enough money.
  • We need to continue sales tax and consider taxing services.
  • Get rid of City and County duplication.
  • Streamline efficiencies.
  • Need to come up with creative ideas long-term to note eliminate these necessities.
  • Perhaps other sources for resources.
  • Public is not educated – not sure anything can pass.
  • Make cuts across the board.
  • Outsource – i.e. snow removal.
  • Change Tabor so we can recover.
  • Eliminate City Tabor.
  • City income tax.
  • In short term – increase property tax.
  • Sales tax for services.
  • Look for new opportunities for earned revenue.
  • Long term bonds.
  • Business like market approach.
  • Cost-based allocation
  • User fees for program that cover costs.
  • Need a balance.
  • Look at other communities; we don’t need to be the lowest tax paying community.
  • I don’t want to see our amenities change.
  • I think property tax is low, so I am okay with the property tax increase.
  • Across the board payroll deduction for all City employees.
  • Could we cut salaries?
  • Fees for usage.
  • Need a reserve fund for bad years and a plan to keep this from happening again.
  • Pursue opportunities to consolidate city & county services.  Need strategic master plan because we do not want to pay for duplication or waste.
  • Lower dependence on sales tax – more balanced revenue sources.
  • Need more public information, transparency and we need to build trust.
  • De-Bruce
  • Increase Mill levy
  • Change Gallagher
  • User fees
  • Change the way the city pays for non-potable water used to water parks etc.
  • City/County merger
  • Solid income base
  • Head tax
  • Regional transportation district tax
  • Increase property tax
  • Consolidate school districts
  • Tax cigarettes, lodging and rental cars.
  • Issue of downsizing inefficiencies as compared to sources of funds – a product may be free but usage & maintenance can be significant.
  • Find a way to share the cost with citizens who live outside the city and use city services.
  • Recognize the snowball effect if city services are reduced.
  • We need to model the impact of decisions before enacting them.
  • i.e. taxes provided versus costs expended.
  • Would more people take public transportation if it better fin their needs?
  • Need better alternative transportation methods, i.e. bicycle safe areas.
  • Don’t have money to complete projects.
  • Volunteers to run Park & Rec programs with tax supported facility maintenance coordinated and overseen by the city
  • Help citizens understand the social obligation to support the services we value.
  • Help citizens understand the cost to restore services lost.
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