Get ready, friends. Colorado Springs is just a trial run for what awaits us all:
This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.
More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.
The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.
Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.
Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.
City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won’t pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.
This is just awesome. And here’s the best part:
• Though officials and citizens put public safety above all in the budget, police and firefighting still lost more than $5.5 million this year. Positions that will go empty range from a domestic violence specialist to a deputy chief to juvenile offender officers. Fire squad 108 loses three firefighters. Putting the helicopters up for sale and eliminating the officers and a mechanic banked $877,000.
Attention drug dealers! You now have a city where you can practice your trade without hindrance from pesky local authorities!
The bitch of this is that a good chunk of Colorado Springs’ economy rests on tourism. Good luck drawing people to a city that is totally dark at night, that has acres of dead brown grass across its public spaces and that is overrun by criminals due to police cuts. I doubt that even the most dedicated Randroid would have the stomach for crap like this.
(But then again, I’m sure things will get better once the town contracts all public safety functions out to Blackwater.)
HTML adds: Megan McDepratmentle is angry!