In February of 2010 I was doing a lot of posts about the decrepitude of American cities like Detroit, Michigan. During my research I had run across repeated stories of services shutdowns that were turning once-idyllic heartland suburbs into wastelands.
And of these, the story of Colorado Springs was one of the most devastating.
In my post “this is how the end begins“, I excerpted the following from a Denver Post story:
COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.
More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.
The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.
Well, I have some encouraging news for those of you who’ve been seeing these types of stories…there are some signs of hope after all that cities can turn things around. CNNMoney is out with a piece about the Revival of Colorado Springs and it’s welcome news to be sure:
However, just as Colorado Springs’ leaders were imposing big budget cuts, the economy started to turn around. Residents are spending more again, fueling a steady climb in tax revenue.
Sales tax revenue has increased steadily since Nov. 2009 and is up 3.25% year-to-date compared with the same period in 2010. It is still running below pre-recession levels though.
But the recent uptick in sales tax revenue, along with the savings from trimming the city’s payroll and other cost-containment measures, have allowed officials to restore many of the services they had eliminated only 12 months before.
The buses are rolling again on Saturdays, and the streets are now illuminated at night. The police and fire academies are training new recruits. The parks are being re-seeded and will be watered once again.
The cynic will say that this “recovery” for the city is both fragile and possibly fleeting. The realist will agree. But hell, if we can’t at least acknowledge the good stuff once in a while, what’s the point?