LUNCH WITH A LEADER
I was seated at the same table as Vice Mayor Larry Small today at the CSPD Medal Of Valor Ceremony. I see the VM every year at this event. Shannon Brinias and I have been emcees for the Medal of Valor for four years now. In between trips to the podium I talked about the city with the VM. He wasn't being interviewed for a report, but I don't think he'd mind me sharing a few things I learned from him.
Our city is growing. The latest number Larry Small has seen estimated our current population at 412,000. Last I heard we were at about 350,000. Clearly I hadn't heard in a while! He also told me El Paso County is now pushing 700,000 in population.
Our city will keep growing. Mr. Small says we're up about 8,000 in the last year. We also know that the growth at Fort Carson is going to mean an increase of about 30,000 (including active duty soldiers and their family members) by 2012. He also says the city is at its lowest level of staffing in some time, down about 200 employees overall. He says we're now just under a ratio of 4 City employees per 1,000 in population. He says 3 of those 4 are police or fire related, so that leaves 1 per 1,000 to handle everything else..streets, services, etc.
At the same time Mr. Small says he's very proud of city staff for finding a way to get everything done in difficult circumstances. Anyone who works anywhere is well aware of the phrase, "doing more with less" , he says they are certainly living it in the city offices and departments.
He's optimistic. The mill levy issue on the November ballot would certainly help, but there's no certainty it will pass. He's pleased that the Gazette and the Independent have both endorsed it. At 11 News we don't endorse issues or candidates in any election, and I won't. There are many opponents with lots of reasons they say it shouldn't be approved. Mr. Small says property tax revenue is considered pretty stable. He told me the city's revenue sources right now are about 10 percent stable, and 90 percent variable, and he'd like to see much more balance in those columns.
He feels like things will start to turn around soon, and in a couple of years, maybe the economy will be healed. We all hope that's the case.
So in a quick chat I learned a lot. What's encouraging is that growth in population often brings growth in a city's economy. It also requires growth in services. We'll see what happens there. Maybe my Small Talk with the Vice Mayor will bring better numbers next year.
We'll talk again soon.
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