The following is reprinted with permission of a friend, Toby Gannett. He's a local visionary, instigator, and (his term) benevolent capitalist. These are his thoughts on the recent passing of the Southern Delivery System. The entire email I received from him is below, unedited. This is the type of civic interaction, discourse and factual debate I am proud to seeing beginning in our city.
Today marks an interesting day in the History of the Pikes Peak Region. I would like to congratulate Colorado Springs Utilities on successfully getting city approval to begin work on the Southern Delivery System. They have worked tirelessly to improve relations with Pueblo to make the project possible. Under Jerry Forte, Colorado Springs Utilities has delivered on its duty to prepare for the regions future water needs for generations to come. I also applaud CSU for helping to find a sustainable solution to keeping our parks green.
What is amazing to me, is that our city has not lived up to the same level of expectation. The debate on the SDS could have been a catalyst for strategic long term integrated planning for our community. Our community has been growth centered since the second world war and our city is synonymous with urban sprawl. Growth for Growths sake is not a sustainable or financially prudent policy. As our city has expanded, and now covers a vast footprint. First Union, then Circle, then Powers, then… As the expansion has moved eastward, the big boxes on each successive beltway have gone dark. Along with this expansion, we have accumulated more streets to maintain, larger utility infrastructure to support, and larger areas for our Police and Fire departments to protect.
In effect the expansion of the city has been subsidized by the taxpayers with the profits going to private developers. I believe that much of our cities current frustration is that we continue to grow, without a comprehensive growth plan. SDS is a 2.2 Billion dollar subsidy of this growth. It allows us to continue growing, but without a strategic plan and bold leadership we will simply become a larger version of our current community. In the end SDS may critical to our long term future, but it should be a catalyst to force our city to look at how we can use long term planning to make our city more efficient at delivering services and delivering our fiduciary duty to our taxpayers. The future debt service of the SDS will be equivalent to a major percentage of our overall city budget.
The SDS is the largest capital expenditure our community has made in decades. Today our city will most probably chose to continue to follow the policy subsiding growth and increase the Tax/Utility Rate burden on our citizens. It is ironic that after the community did not have enough confidence in our government to pass a modest tax rate increase last fall, and have slashed city services, that today we approved a 2.2 billion dollar tax increase. Next year our city will need to once again slash additional millions from our budgets and services. When will we as a city rise to the challenges before us? It is possible to be financially conservative, rely on our strong non-profit community to provide social services, and have a government that has a clear direction of the regions long term economic expansion. What is needed is a clearly articulated vision of how our city government, our hospitals and utilities are working together to make Colorado Springs an even better place to live. The current financial climate presents our communty with amazing opportunities to create a better future.
A Dunn & Associates Inc. Managed Community