Posted: Oct 18, 2011 9:18 PM by John Romero
Colorado Springs City Council has begun the process of reviewing the mayor's nearly $380,000,000 dollar "all funds" budget. Mayor Bach has directed all agencies to find more efficient ways to operate, including eliminating 38 vacant city positions from the 2012 budget, and more cost sharing for the city employee medical plan. So far, departments have come up with more than three million in proposed savings.
The Colorado Springs Police Depart isn't immune to the cuts either. Interim Police Chief Pete Carey has been handed the task of cutting over $1,000,000 of his budget. Which represents about a third of the overall budget cuts city wide. "The budget issues are always difficult. At least in the last 3 or 4 years." says Carey.
Among the items proposed to go are the city's red light cameras. Police tell us the data on whether or not the camera's stop violations show "conflicting information at best". The program uses 2 full time officers and a part time sergeant. That's money and manpower Chief Carey says could be used elsewhere. "That's over $200,000 for that program that we will hopefully put in a more urgent need area." says Carey. He points out there are downtown problem areas that the man power could be used at instead.
Even though the camera will likely be gone, police are planning on keeping the mobile radar speed vans on the streets, especially near school zones.
Some sworn police jobs will either be eliminated due to retirement or filled by less expensive civilians. Another part of the budget readjustment will come in the form of new community service officers. "We pay them a little bit less and they do a lot of things a normal police officer would normally do." explains Carey, "So it frees a police officer up to do the in progress crimes, violent crimes and things like that."
Carey hopes by cutting in some areas and moving money around others the city can keep cops on the streets and the community safe. "The challenge is to maintain or improve our service to the community next year and to keep our officers safe." says Carey.
Before city budget cuts are officially adopted there are a few matters of business to go through first. On October 27th the city will have a formal public hearing to get community reaction and input. They will then have a mark up session on November 3rd before adopting the budget on December 13th.