A Night at the roundtable

Oct 212010
Authors: Erin Udell

About 25 students gathered in the Lory Student Center’s Grey Rock room Thursday evening to participate in a roundtable discussion with members of the Fort Collins City Council.

The annual event, hosted by the Associated Students of Colorado State University, allowed students to ask council members about city issues.

“This is a really unique opportunity,” said Chase Eckerdt, the director of Community Affairs for the ASCSU. “It’s important that we discuss issues with the people that are making the final decision.”

Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson, police Captain Jim Szakmeister and city council members Ben Manvel, David Roy and Wade Troxell all attended the event to discuss city issues like occupancy, transportation and the possible sales tax increase.

The new measure on the Nov. 2 ballot seeks to increase the city sales tax rate by .85 percent in order to help further pay for road maintenance, park maintenance and police and fire services throughout Fort Collins.

“The main thing with a sales tax increase is that’s it’s an increase on all things besides food and pharmaceuticals,” Troxell said on the impact to the community. “So the cost of living in Fort Collins will go up.”

According to City Manager Darin Atteberry’s budget highlights, Fort Collins is facing a revenue shortfall of $4.5 million in 2010 and $5.4 million in 2012.

Reductions made by the city from 2005 to 2010 have focused on saving money internally by cutting city jobs. After these cuts, the city is forced to reduce programs and services that will have a direct community impact.

Some of these cuts may include reducing daily hours at the Northside Aztlan Community Center, cutting evening service for Dial-a-Ride and possibly closing the Mulberry Pool.

During the roundtable discussion, Councilmember Troxell stressed the need for prioritizing the budget.

“Frankly, I think the city needs to tighten its belt on finance,” Troxell said.

Since July, Troxell has been on a self-proclaimed “city diet” and has not eaten any food paid for by the city of Fort Collins during events in an effort to show how that money could go toward other city needs.

“We’re all having to make changes,” Troxell said. “We have to discern between what’s necessary and what isn’t as critical.”

City budget was just one of the topics discussed at the roundtable meeting, as students brought up important city issues to the council members.

“It gives students the opportunity to see who’s running the city,” Eckerdt said. “A lot of students would really benefit from being at these things.”

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com

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