Jan 252011
 
Authors: Courtney Riley

Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson and City Manager Darin Atteberry began their State of the City address on a positive note by applauding Fort Collins’ recent recognition as one of Money Magazine’s best places to live.

“It’s the people who live here and who engage whole-heartedly in making Fort Collins one of the nation’s best places to live, work and play,” Atteberry said.

The looming cloud that is the economy, however, was never far from anyone’s mind.

Hutchinson said Fort Collins has been resilient despite the nation’s struggling economy.

The city’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 9.1, as well as Colorado’s average of 8.7 percent.

The city plans to improve in several areas through state and federal grants, as well as money gained from 2B –– a citywide .85 percent sales tax increase enacted this year.

These projects include:

  • $27.5 million to reconstruct the I-25/392 Interchange,
  • $82 million to build the Mason Corridor,
  • $34 million to transform our utilities with Smart Grid technology,
  • $11 million to kick start FortZED, Fort Collins’ Zero Energy District,
  • $63 million to revitalize North College Avenue, and
  • $24 million to build a new Fort Collins Discovery Museum.

“These grants and projects are possible only because of the strategic leveraging of city dollars and private investment,” Hutchinson said.

The 2B sales tax will bring in $18.7 million this year, which, according to Hutchinson and Atteberry, will be used to improve the overall quality of life in the city. The money will be divided as follows:

  • Fifty percent will go to transportation, such as repairing roads, fixing bridges, making Fort Collins more bike-friendly and reinvesting in the city’s infrastructure. The current level of transit service, along with Dial-A-Ride night service, will be preserved.
  • Thirty percent will go to public safety, emphasizing downtown and neighborhood safety by hiring more patrol officers and detectives.
  • Ten percent will go to parks and recreation to maintain parks and preserve facilities, such as the Mulberry pool and youth and senior programs.
  • Ten percent will go to other community priorities, such as economic health and the environment.

Janet Meyer, a resident of southeast Fort Collins, said she believes the money from 2B will successfully maintain and add to the services of the city.

Close to her home is a lot that’s been empty for years.

“For six years I’ve been hoping that maybe it can be turned into a park,” she said.

Funds from 2B will also support the Climate Action Plan by providing solar recycling bins and composting units downtown. A new program will be launched that offers voluntary in-home sustainability assessments and recommendations.

The city intends to hold sustainability as a higher priority to meet both City Council and the community’s expectations.

“As we look ahead, the state of our city is strong,” Hutchinson said. “The future of Fort Collins is bright and full of promise. Together we can fully achieve that promise.”

Staff writer Courtney Riley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

More on 2B

  • 2B is a citywide .85 percent sales tax increase
  • Was put into effect Jan. 1 and will continue for the next 10 years
  • Will bring in $18.7 million this year
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