Slow growth and a recent 1 percent budget cut mean police aren't responding to many "lesser" crimes. That includes burglaries not in progress. And with less cops to go around as the city grows, volunteers are doing work most of us would hope would be reserved for real cops — like investigating cold homicides. This year's cuts eliminated 11 vacant sworn positions and seven civilian positions.
The city recently cut the fire department's budget
by 1 percent, which closed five vacant firefighter positions and two civilian positions. To compensate, some firefighters have been put on double duty, answering run-of-the-mill calls and hazardous materials calls. That means response time for hazmat calls will likely be longer, and whenever firefighters take a hazmat call — when, say, someone cut their gas line accidentally — there will be fewer personnel to handle other emergencies.
The city has eliminated its roads resurfacing program, pushing the burden to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (which is funded by a voter-approved, one-cent sales tax). So, while 10 to 12 percent of roads should be resurfaced annually, only about 2 percent will be in 2009. "The impact will be obvious," says Saleem Khattak, city streets division manager. "The roads will continue to deteriorate." Oh, and if there's a snowstorm, the city won't plow residential streets until 6 inches pile up.
Several hundred people who need a bus to get around have had to find a different option this year. Since January, the city has cut 50,000 hours of bus service, or 25 percent of the system. The most recent cuts, just implemented, eliminated routes 2, 20, 23, E1, E2 and E3, adversely impacted another nine routes, and cut off all service for 75 to 125 of the city's paratransit riders — those who use a special transit service because they are disabled.
Parks & rec
This year, playground equipment that's damaged will be partially or fully dismantled instead of being replaced. Some park bathrooms will be closed. Tree pruning will be for emergencies only, leading to more fallen branches taking out street lights or blocking sidewalks. Hours will be cut at outdoor pools, some visitor centers and the Pioneers Museum. The Julie Penrose Fountain in America the Beautiful Park won't run. And, in all likelihood, grass will turn brown because sprinklers will only provide 11 inches of water, far less than usual.