Fort Collins officials recently released their annual Report to
the Community for 2003, summarizing some of the successes in the
community as well as the failures.
The 2003 Report to the Community concludes that the city
“endured tough economic conditions,” during the course of last
year, but it also noted many accomplished goals.
“The overall national, regional and local downturn of the
economy was a struggle,” said Darin Atteberry, assistant city
manager of Fort Collins.
At the peak of the Fort Collins economy in 2001, sales and use
tax collections were at about $71 million. In 2003, the city
collected just under $68 million and forced the city to make $2.5
million in budget cuts.
Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez said he believes the city let
down the community by not “prioritizing public safety.” He also
said there were certain projects, such as the construction of
Fossil Creek Park, that the city could have held back on to better
police and fire services in the community.
“The large accomplishment of 2003 was the fact we opened Fossil
Creek Park,” Atteberry said, adding that the park is unique and fun
for the whole family.
Fossil Creek Park was constructed from funds not dependent on
taxes but is maintained by city funds. The park was the first
community park built since 1984.
According to the report and Fort Collins Budget Director Doug
Smith, the 2003 budget cuts did not affect the police department in
either taking or granting additional funds.
Smith said the police department has faced budget cuts for 2004
in that $520,000 has already been slashed from the department.
“The critical downfall is that we failed to give enough priority
to public safety,” Martinez said.
Martinez said his main goal for 2004 is to focus on the sluggish
economy in Fort Collins, as well as to focus on public safety.
City Council took measures last year to improve the local
economy by beginning to implement a summit on economic development,
starting an economic advisory council and hiring an economic
adviser, Martinez said.
“I think we do need to watch how the city is growing and watch
the need for additional police,” said Marty Tharp, City Council
member for District 5, southeast of Drake Road and College Avenue
and northwest of Timberline and Harmony roads.
Tharp said she believes the city made the proper choice in not
adding to the city’s public safety department and said nothing was
taken away from it either.
Despite last year’s sub-par economy, Martinez and Fischbach
focused on the positive effects in the city by detailing in their
report the encouraging news and developments made possible by the
The report praised the attention to transportation issues around
the city, including the widening of Lemay Avenue from Muirfield Way
to Trilby Road and improving traffic signals around the city.
Additionally, last year the Edora Pool Ice Center received a new
second layer of ice, the City Park Pool was renovated and the Fort
Collins Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary, the report
Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez and City Manager John Fischbach
were the main contributors and authors of the report.