Jan 262010
 
Authors: Sara Michael

The State of the City address left one resounding message with its audience: Fort Collins could be saying so long to Transfort.

All 50 of Fort Collins’s city parks, Dial-a-Ride, the Lincoln Center and the Edora Pool and Ice Center on Riverside Avenue could also be on the chopping block.

Cutting the programs would save about half of the $20 million the city needs to cut to right the city’s budget woes, Mayor Doug Hutchinson said in his address. The choice city can avoid the cuts and still break even by adding a cent to the sales tax, he said.

Without taking action, however, the city will deplete its reserves within three years.

Whatever cuts are made will be in addition to the $24 million dollars in cuts that have been made from the city budget over the past five years.

Hutchinson, joined with City Manager Darrin Atteberry, spoke in an almost full city hall and declared that the city is on a “tipping point.” The town that was declared Money magazine’s “best place to live” in 2006 has seen its share of troubles in the last three years.

For the first time in 50 years, a Fort Collins police officer was shot in the line of duty Christmas Day, and local food banks have seen a 30 percent increase in clientele over the past year.
Despite the community’s troubles, Atteberry described himself as an optimist ­­–– “Not a blind optimist, but an informed one.”

Hutchinson agreed. “We’re passionate about creating a vibrant, world class community,” he said.

But, he warned, it’s not going to be easy. The easy thing to do, Hutchinson said, would be to overlook the problems of today ––”to kick the can down the road.”

Fort Collins has seen difficult times, said council member David Roy, but he said he is proud of the way the City Council has adjusted to serve all citizens including the needy and the needless.

“We’ve made sure the citizens enjoyed their tax dollars,” he said.

Roy asked the citizens of Fort Collins to be informed, to embrace their responsibility and plan for what is to come.

“You have a genuine ability to influence the future … Truly, it is up to you to shape the future of our community,” he said.

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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