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Bach calls for more cops

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In a news briefing Monday, Mayor Steve Bach proposed a budget that would increase general fund spending to $259 million next year, about 3 percent more than this year. In that proposal, which City Council will review, amend, and work to finalize by Nov. 25, Bach's asking for 20 cops, more frequent bus service, and $11 million for capital improvements.

Bach, who hasn't announced whether he'll seek another term, spoke almost as much Monday about his first three years in office as he did about the spending plan for 2015. He said that during his term, the city has allocated $46 million toward flood control (some came from the federal government), restored weekend and Sunday bus service, and re-lit 3,500 streetlights. Most of those steps were enabled by sales tax revenues bouncing back after the recession.

Adamant about slashing pension costs, Bach noted that 17 percent of the 2015 budget will go toward employee benefits, 2 percent less than in 2010, and that salaries compose half of the 2015 budget, compared to 55 percent in 2010. He promised he'd submit a proposal to Council soon about how to deal with the city's $1.3 billion backlog of road, bridge and park infrastructure.

The budget plan is based on a forecast that sales tax receipts will go up by 4.4 percent next year, continuing the modest growth seen this year. The city's revenue sources: sales taxes, $147.9 million; property taxes, $19.8 million; other taxes, such as on vehicles, $3 million; licenses and permits, $1.2 million; other governments, such as highway user taxes, $20.9 million; charges for service, such as park field rentals and plan review fees, $14.9 million; fines, $5 million; Colorado Springs Utilities surplus revenue (previously called payment in lieu of taxes), $32.5 million; grants, about $9 million; and a one-time $1.5 million draw from reserves. The reserve money will go toward information technology upgrades and police equipment.

Bach's spending plan would grow the city workforce by a net of about 38 jobs, with 23 police positions (20 sworn officers) among the additions. That's expected to drive the total cost of general fund salaries, benefits and pensions up by $7.6 million in 2015, from $172.9 million this year, the budget plan states.

— Pam Zubeck

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