Mayor Lionel Rivera touted the city’s economic development victories, warned of tough economic decisions ahead and downplayed problems with the U.S. Olympic Committee development agreement during his State of the City speech today.
He said keeping the USOC in Colorado Springs would bring new shops, restaurants and tens of thousands of sporting fans to the city.
“It’s a vision I embrace and support, and it starts by keeping the USOC Headquarters in Colorado Springs and capitalizing on a renewed partnership,” he said. “We won’t let you down.”
On a more positive note, Rivera said the city used tax money to successfully convince Hewlett Packard to select Colorado Springs for a $260 million data center.
“They could have chosen any number of locations for this project,” he said, ”but we partnered with them to make it happen here by providing tax incentives.”
Developments and victories aside, he said the city still faces a tight budget in 2010 and that the city’s volunteer sustainable funding committee will make budget recommendations for next year on July 27.
“Our current projections are for a $23 million shortfall for 2010,” he said.
The news comes after a particularly difficult year already. The budget had gaps of nearly $40 million and eliminated about 200 staff positions.
He warned that two possible ballot measures proposed by anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce would further cripple the city.
One of Bruce’s proposed initiatives would halt all enterprise payments to the city within eight years, including an estimated $27 million annual payment in lieu of taxes from Colorado Springs Utilities.
“You will more than likely see some ballot questions in November that will not be good for our city,” Rivera said. ”If they pass, they will, when fully implemented, eliminate about $45 to $50 million a year of city revenue. We can not let that happen, and we will do everything we can to defeat the measure.”