Despite high unemployment and foreclosures, and in the face of a projected decline in property taxes, the Chairman of the El Paso County Commissioners, Dennis Hisey, is optimistic about coming years.
In the State of the Region address, Hisey discussed how collaboration, cooperation and innovation has helped the county accomplish more with less, and how those concepts will be need in 2011 and beyond. "We have a common purpose to ensure a sustainable future which extends beyond the neighborhood, beyond the city limits, beyond the county line and even beyond the statehouse," says Hisey.
Citing several examples of this collaboration, cooperation and innovation, like the successful completion of improvements on South Academy Blvd. between I-25 and Highay 115, and the expansion of the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Hisey says, they have been forced to learn how to work together to complete projects and provide services. "In times past, when everybody had money, everybody did their own thing, and they didn't need to rely on their neighbors; and those days are over now," says Hisey.
Even though the financial outlook for El Paso County isn't stellar, there are bright spots. According to the county, sales tax revenue is trending up, as are vehicle registrations, and the regional building department sees signs of life in residential homebuilding. Hisey says, this leads him to believe we are starting to come out of the recession.
The county hopes to be able to accomplish several things in 2011, the counties sesquicentennial; none of them include cutting services. Instead, the offices of the Department of Human Services, as well as the county assessor, treasurer and clerk and recorder will get new homes. The district attorney will get additional room in his building for prosecutors and support staff for three new judges.
But perhaps, the one investment the county is watching closest will be the first returns from the business-driven, public-private federal lobbyist consortium that's just been hired.
With hopes of bringing a federal courthouse to Colorado Springs, the county hopes 2011-2012 will truly be happy and prosperous years.