Hello COS! We are back with the COS By The Numbers; your semi-weekly (monthly?) roundup of interesting numbers around Colorado Springs, Colorado and beyond. This week we have some jail problems, some parks problems and the preview of a November ballot.
We don’t have any Hurricane Harvey numbers in the column this week – too much tragedy to try and poke fun of. If you want to help, NPR has a great piece up with links to the various organizations that are on the ground in Texas.
With that, your numbers for the week!
The recent inmate population at the El Paso County jail, a record high. The jail, run by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, has a current maximum capacity of 1,753. As you can see, the jail is literally bursting at the seams. The cause? The “feeder” communities (word choice Gazette! Inmates aren’t fish!) such as Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and Monument have continued to grow while the jail’s last expansion was in 2005. The Gazette articles cites the community’s assumed reluctance to approve another tax dedicated to expanding the facility. Which is understandable. A “expand the jail” tax isn’t the sexiest thing for Mayor Suthers, county commissioners and City Council to advocate for. The jail situation alludes to a broader problem with the number of people we incarcerate in the US, something we covered a few months ago. Overall, not a great situation for the Sheriff or the incarcerated to be dealing with. [The Gazette]
The new property tax increase that voters in Colorado Springs School District 11 will be asked to approve in the November ballot to provide funding to the city’s largest school district. This is the District’s second attempt at a mill levy override. The prior ballot measure was voted down in 2016. The tax would add about $14 a month for homes valued at $200,000 and about $7 per month for homes valued at $100,000, according to the campaign manager for Friends of D11. $42 million may seem like a big chunk of change, but keep in mind a few things. One, most D11 buildings are over 50 years old. Two, D-11 hasn’t had a significant funding increase since 2000. And three, COS has incredibly low property taxes as is. Increasing them still will not bring us in line with the rest of the Front Range. “But what about pot money?!” you may be whispering to yourself. Turns out, pot money for education is mostly a smoke a mirrors job. So suck it up and do something nice for the kids.
The number of days since Senator Cory Garnder’s last in person town hall meeting. Gardner was the focus of a heated town hall in COS a few weeks ago, with many constituents expressing anger at his votes on health care and other Republican led bills. To Gardner’s credit, he remained calm and cordial throughout the whole town hall. To Gardner’s detriment, YOU REPRESENT ALL COLORADO CITIZENS, NOT JUST THE ONES THAT THINK SCIENCE IS BAD AND TAX CUTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN HEALTHCARE. So suck it up and keep hitting the town hall circuit, because your constituents deserve to be heard. [The Denver Post]
The city’s new Venezia Park off of Briargate Boulevard has been the target of vandalism and graffiti since it opened, spurring City Council to approve an additional $450,000 toward cameras and added security for the new facility. Which, as Councilwoman Yolanda Avila points out, seems a bit ridiculous given that other parks, in poorer parts of town, are also experiencing vandalism and graffiti. The issue comes down to where the money is appropriated from (pesky City Budget stuff!), but Avila raises a good point; why are we prioritizing a park in the northeast part of the city when we have tons of problems with the parks in the downtown and southeast corridor? [COS Independent]