Jun 302009
Authors: Ian Bezek

You should feel guilty. Our city government is running short on funds, and you, the residents, aren’t doing enough to support our community.

Times have gotten so dire that the city has been forced to fire employees, shrink programs for the poor, stop City Park renovations and even slash funding for the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

If we listen to the cries coming from the Fort Collins City Council, we should be handing over our wallets now to save the city from imminent ruin. According to them, we can’t even afford a Fourth of July celebration.

Government officials, despite Mayor Doug Hutchinson’s pledge to not attempt to raise taxes this year, have already floated ideas such as a transit fee on utility bills and an increase in the sales tax.

The financial imbroglio has culminated in the city’s refusal to pay for the costs associated with Fort Collins’ annual Fourth of July celebration, which, no thanks to city government, will occur this Saturday.

While the $10,000 needed for the celebration doesn’t sound like much, Hutchinson already said that draconian measures such as entirely shutting down Transfort or closing the Lincoln Center wouldn’t balance the city’s books.

Is the situation really that dire? It is indeed true that the city of Fort Collins has seen its financial situation deteriorate as the recession deepens.

Sales tax revenue is down, transportation revenue such as vehicle licenses is sinking and certain costs, such as asphalt, are rising as a consequence of higher oil prices. The city is facing a cash crunch.

However, unlike the state of California, our budget is not on the brink of collapse.

The city government is merely scaring the citizenry in an attempt to push through tax increases. Changes to the tax code aren’t necessarily bad, but it is preposterous to think that any time the mayor and city council put on their puppy dog faces and come begging for a tax increase that we have to vote yes.

While I’m no accountant, I think that together we can take a look at the problem – in this case a lack of money for our Fourth of July celebration – and see if we really need to authorize a tax increase.

According to Fort Collins Coloradoan, “Festivities marking Independence Day will be a bit different this year in Fort Collins because of city budget cuts.”

It goes on to explain that the city won’t foot the bill for entertainment before the fireworks such as bringing in the Fort Collins Symphony. (The Poudre Valley Health System agreed to pitch in for the fireworks display.)

City official Marty HefferProxy-Connection: keep-alive

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n explained that this move would save the city $10,000. Are there any better ways we could come up with the cash?

Perhaps I’ve found the answer. According to the Denver Post, the City of Fort Collins spent $9,600 to send city officials to Vail this year.

The Denver Post reported that, “At a time of layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts in Colorado municipal governments, about 600 officials from towns large and small have convened at a Vail resort for three days of taxpayer-funded networking and seminars interspersed with parties and golf.”

A little rest and relaxation for the officials, eh? Glendale City Council member LuVerne Davenport said that when they weren’t in seminars, “we goofed off.”

So, Fort Collins spends nearly $10,000 to send city officials to play golf, party and goof off in Vail but they can’t pay a symphony to come out for Fourth of July? I’d be offended except that I’m in a celebratory mood; Independence Day is near, and there’s hardly anything more American than wasting taxpayer’s money.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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