Donelson: Training Facility Has No Funding or Plan

You should vote NO on 2A for two common sense reasons. Before I go further, I want to make it clear that I strongly support the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD)_and Law Enforcement in general. My support for law enforcement doesn’t change the fact that this TABOR retention is a bad idea. 

Reason number 1:  There is no plan – other than getting the citizens to vote to give up their TABOR refunds and allow the city to keep them. That $4.75 million will go into an account and the city will try to figure out an actual plan later. When the mayor and Chief of Police were asked a few basic questions by city council, such as “What will it cost?”, “Where will we build it”, “What will it include (shooting range, driving track, etc.)?” they did not have answers to any of these questions. They are still trying to figure them out. If you took a proposal like this to a bank and asked for a loan, they would laugh you out of the building. This is a formula for cost overruns and additional requests for more tax dollars.  

Reason number 2:  How are we going to pay for it? The $4.75 million will likely turn out to be less than 10% of what is needed to build a new facility. Where will the rest of the money come from? In typical government fashion the plan is to borrow it. However, due to decreasing city revenues (sales tax collections) and the weakening economy, the mayor’s 2024 budget actually proposes to CUT operations and maintenance (O&M) in all city departments by 3.4% in 2024. The mayor’s proposed budget will also take $10 million dollars from our city’s reserve fund and spend it in 2024 just to keep the cuts from being larger than that. That is like raiding your emergency fund. We are not in a position to take on additional debt. 

The mayor’s 3.4% O&M cuts even include CSPD. So, at the same time he is leading a campaign to make you feel guilty if you don’t support a half-baked plan for a poorly defined training center, he is cutting real 2024 funding for our police.  

City Council learned a few days ago that that 3.4% O&M cut in CSPD will result in 8,000 hours less overtime available for CSPD. That will result in a decrease in CSPD’s ability to perform basic tasks – like enforce speed limits on our streets. It is also a fact that one of the ways CSPD proposes to handle the 3.4% cut is by decreasing the size of Police Training Academy classes in 2024. So, at the same time we are being told we need to support this TABOR retention because we are short officers and need larger classes – we are cutting the size of our current classes because we need to save money.   

The Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits the amount of sales tax revenue that the city is allowed to keep. You, the citizens, have overpaid by almost $5 million and are due a refund. As usual the city wants to keep that refund. In order to convince you to let them keep it, they once again propose to use it on something that citizens rightly believe is important. This year it is for a police training center. This should have been planned for in the city’s budget, just as you and I plan for important necessities in our budgets. Why does the city repeatedly wait until citizens are due a refund, and then discover an emergency which requires keeping your overpaid taxes? Because it continues to get away with it. This time, let’s say NO, and require the city to present a real plan so we can be sure of what we are getting and what it will cost. Let’s discourage the city from coming up with an emergency every time you are due a tax refund. Join me, a strong police supporter, in voting NO on 2A. 

4 thoughts on “Donelson: Training Facility Has No Funding or Plan

  1. It is great to hear exactly what was presented to city council. I can’t imagine walking into a bank saying I need money because I plan to build a house. No, loan officer, I don’t have plans, no land yet, no idea of cost since I have no plans or land. But I need the money. I wouldn’t last 2 minutes and I shouldn’t.

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