A story to keep an eye on as the “Great Recession” continues to unfold is the city finances and cutback in services of Colorado Springs, Colorado. While many local governments and states are facing bankruptcy due to spending levels that cannot be met with dwindling tax revenues, the city that is home to the U.S. Olympic Committee is maintaining its low tax rates and living within its means. Colorado Spring’s experience just could have many Americans wondering why we rely on government for so much.
Now, I should fess up. I first heard of this story while watching the Ed Show hosted by far-left radio and TV political pundit Ed Schultz. I do occasionally like to amuse myself with the laughable commentary of the likes of Ed and his other MSNBC comrades Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow.
Nevertheless, at issue in Colorado Springs was a desperate plea from city officials about 7 months ago to the voters asking for approval to raise taxes to pay for routine services. It was the same old story – the recession had caused a decline in tax revenues and the city faced a shortfall of around $24 million. Without an increase in the local sales tax, city services would have to be curtailed. With the result of the referendum, the people had spoken – city government, you will get no tax increase; do what you can with current revenue levels.
Unlike California, where for years the electorate demanded more from government without the obligation to pay for it, the good folks of Colorado Springs not only rejected higher taxes but took it upon themselves to remedy their own problem. Private citizens volunteered to pick up trash in parks. Swim clubs took over public pools. Churches and private organizations, like the U.S. Olympic committee, raised money to keep community centers and city fountains running. Admirably, one anonymous woman donated $37,000 to keep Nancy Lewis Park green and clean. Of course, Ed Schultz neglected to report these positive facets of the story, dwelling instead on how aghast he was that voters would vote down tax increases to fund non-essential government services like museums, parks, and pools. As a good statist it is inconceivable to him how normal people could live without being dependent on government for these needs.