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Update on Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

Mayor Suthers gave an update on the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness at the Apartment Association luncheon on Thursday, May 18.

  • In 2014, the Whitehouse announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness – a call to action to mayors across the country to make a commitment to ending veteran homelessness in their cities.
  • On behalf of Colorado Springs, then-Mayor Steve Bach joined this effort.
  • When I took office in 2015, I was pleased to pledge my ongoing support.
  • By the end of 2015, our community came close to declaring “functional zero” - a condition in which no Veteran is forced to live on our streets, and homelessness, when it does occur, is brief, rare, and non-recurring.
  • However, due to the lack of low barrier shelter and available, affordable housing, we could not quite reach that mark.
  • Since then, the City has worked hard to address the shelter shortage.
  • Through the Springs Rescue Mission campus, we invested in the construction of more than 200 low barrier shelter beds along with supportive facilities (showers, laundry, storage, dog kennels) and other supportive services.
  • We have assembled the Continuum of care, to align service providers in a strategic effort to address the diverse needs of the homeless population.
  • I’m pleased to say that these community service providers – most notably, The Springs Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities, and Ecumenical Social Ministries - have really stepped forward to meet these needs.
  • Today, we can immediately shelter any Veteran in need.
  • But sheltering, while important, is a temporary service, and does not end homelessness.
  • That’s where our local landlords come in.
  • The City has funded about $250,000 per year for rental assistance to residents who are homeless and has prioritized Veterans for the assistance.
  • About 31 households were assisted last year and 23% of those were Veterans.
  • That’s progress, but folks; there is still a real need for affordable housing for veterans.
  • The number of homeless Veterans presenting in Colorado Springs has increased year over year since the launch of the Mayor’s Challenge
  • Our most recent Point in Time Count marks 198 veterans who are currently experiencing homelessness in our community. That is about an 18% increase from last year’s number.
  • This is due to a couple factors. First- because of better outreach, our community is better able to find homeless Veterans and connect them to services. Second, at least anecdotally, there is a sense that more homeless veterans are coming to Colorado Springs, perhaps due to a large military presence and Veteran-specific services here.
  • So while the challenge remains difficult, we have a strategy for addressing this need.
  • We will work with the Colorado Springs Housing Authority to direct housing vouchers and tenant based rental assistance to veterans experiencing homelessness.
  • As veterans are placed, they are supported by Rocky Mountain Human Services. We thank them for facilitating this effort through their Homes for All Veterans program.
  • We continue to seek participation from private, public and nonprofit housing providers and landlords to increase the number of available housing units.
  • As willing participants come forward with properties to fill this need, we will prioritize housing rehabilitation funding to providers who open units for Veterans.
  • We also look to maintain our number of shelter beds to ensure that as homeless Veterans are identified, they can also be immediately sheltered.
  • The City of Colorado Springs is not a service provider. But what we can do is bring together service providers like those I listed today, and beseech landlords like those of you attending today, to work together to address this vital need.
  • Thank you.  

City to Retain up to $12 Million in Excess Revenues over Two Years for Stormwater Projects

Colorado Springs voters passed by 66 percent*, Ballot Issue 2 in the April 4 General Municipal Election, which asked voters whether, without any increase in taxes, the City could retain and spend up to $6 million of revenues which exceed amounts otherwise authorized for retention in 2016 and 2017 under the City’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”) requirements.  These funds may only be used for stormwater projects within the City limits. This funding is planned 26 stormwater projects which can be found at this link.

“I’m grateful that city voters have chosen to invest much needed dollars in critical stormwater infrastructure.  This will assist the city to meet legal obligations and improve our ability to mitigate flooding and preserve water quality.  Our citizens’ willingness to address critical public infrastructure issues is a major factor in our city’s economic resurgence,” said Mayor John Suthers.

The additional funds will be used in 2017/2018 to help the City meet its funding requirements for its stormwater program in accordance with its agreement with Pueblo County while funding needed community projects. Under the agreement, the City committed to spend an annual average of $17 million during 2016-2020 on stormwater infrastructure, maintenance and programs. The City has a significant and urgent funding need for stormwater management, which is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against Colorado Springs by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Total funding for all 26 projects is up to $12 million with $6 million in 2016 revenue above the TABOR requirement and up to $6 million in 2017 revenue above the TABOR limit (provided revenue exceeds the TABOR cap in 2017 by up to $6 million).

  • 2016 excess revenues will fund several projects to enter the design phase in 2017, with construction anticipated to start in late 2017 or 2018.
  • 2017 excess revenues will fund the remaining projects and will go into design in 2018 with all projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.

The City estimates that the total amount of revenue in excess of the TABOR limit will be between approximately $8 and $9 million, therefore the refund, after applying $6 million to stormwater projects, will be between approximately $2 million and $3 million. This will likely equate to a one-time refund of approximately $10 to $16 per household.


Under TABOR, state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without voter approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and local growth. Revenue in excess of the TABOR limit must be refunded to taxpayers, unless voters approve of the retention of that revenue by the City. There are many revenue sources included in the calculation of revenue that counts toward the TABOR cap.  During 2016, tourism increased significantly, residential building was on a record pace, and the city’s overall economy was healthier, which led to strong sales tax growth and strong Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) growth.  City sales tax revenues grew 9% in 2016 and TABOR only allows the City’s revenues to grow by 2.4 percent.

For more information and all election results, visit https://www.coloradosprings.gov/election/results  

*Municipal Election Results to be certified April 14.

Mayor Suthers Believes State Transportation Infrastructure Funding Bill (HB17-1242) is not a Good Deal for Colorado Springs

In its current form, a bill working its way through the Colorado legislature concerning transportation funding is not in the best interest of Colorado Springs. 

The bill aims to place a ballot question on the November 2017 ballot asking voter approval for the state to increase the state sales tax rate by .62 percent for 20 years, raising approximately $700 million per year, with new revenue to be allocated for transportation infrastructure purposes as follows:

  • $375 million annually to finance bonds for state highway construction
  • Of the remaining new revenue:
  • 70% to counties and municipalities in equal total amounts; and
  • 30% to a newly created multimodal transportation options fund, including transit.

This would not be a good deal for Colorado Springs because:

The Colorado General Assembly should address state highway infrastructure.  Cities and Counties should fund local infrastructure.

  • The state needs to be focused on expanding I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock, and between Denver and Fort Collins.  They also need to address the major congestion on I-70 and other state highway issues. 
  • Letting local jurisdictions deal with their own infrastructure issues is the fair way to do it without penalizing communities who have already stepped up to address their own infrastructure.  Colorado Springs has been doing this without state help since the 2C road improvement sales tax was approved by local voters in 2015, and we are already seeing significant progress on our roads.
  • A local .62% sales tax goes a lot further than a state .62 percent sales tax.  Colorado Springs’ 2C Road Improvement tax raises $50 million per year. The best case scenario for Colorado Springs under HB17-1242 would be about $18 million per year allocated to our local roads.  That’s not a good tradeoff for Colorado Springs.  
  • Realistically, the vast majority of multimodal transportation funds, including transit, will wind up benefiting the Denver Metro area.

The proposed .62% state sales tax would raise Colorado Springs residents’ total sales tax to almost 9%.

  • Raising the sales tax in Colorado Springs from 8.25 percent to 8.87 percent is too high, and gives us no flexibility in the primary funding source that pays for city services.

Because of TABOR, Colorado Springs would have to ask voters to keep the additional revenue.

  • Colorado Springs has a City Charter TABOR over and above the State TABOR. Any money that came to us would be over the TABOR cap, and we would have to ask citizens to keep the money. That’s an extra step we shouldn’t have to do to maintain our roads.

I urge the Colorado Legislature to focus on funding state highways and let local jurisdictions worry about local transportation infrastructure. That can be done with much less money than HB17-1242 calls for.

Mayor Suthers' Speech on Leadership

Mayor Suthers spoke on leadership at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on March 9.  

UCCS Leadership Speech

Thank you for the invitation to join you this afternoon and to address a very important group of people. Present in the room today are people who have already achieved important positions in our community and others who will undoubtedly be an important part of the future leadership of our community. The fact that many of you are public safety professionals indicates that your future leadership will significantly impact the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. Given your important role in our community I am honored to be asked to talk to you about the subject of leadership.

I want to ensure at the outset that you understand that I don't claim any particular expertise on the topic of leadership. I've never written a book about it and I've never taught seminars about it. But I have held a number of leadership positions and over the years I've made a lot of observations about leadership. Many of these observations are certainly not unique. You've heard them before.  But other observations I have may give you a little different slant on aspects of leadership.

My first observation has to do with how leaders are created. Based on my experience, I'm convinced that leaders are made, not born. You've heard the expression that so-and-so is a "born leader". But what I think those folks are really saying is that an individual has physical or personality characteristics that make it easier for them to be a leader. But those characteristics don't guarantee that an individual will be a good leader. Some people are blessed with good looks or charismatic personalities that are very conducive to leadership. Others of us or not. But that doesn't mean we can't become good leaders.

Because ultimately leadership requires hard work, or else it doesn't count for much. If you are vested with leadership simply because of your name or your station in life you won't necessarily become a good leader. The world is full of talented failures and unfulfilled genius.  Good leadership comes from establishing credibility and that typically comes from effective performance over time. Effective leadership almost always involves a certain amount of dues paying. Think back to your high school days. The freshman class president is usually the one with the best personality. The senior class president is the one that has merited the trust of his or her fellow students over the course of four years.  That’s typically how people earn leadership positions.  

It's my observation that good leaders are calculated risk takers and competitors and understand there is much to be gained from the effort, even if you're unsuccessful. Whether in electoral politics, or corporate or organizational politics, taking on a leadership role often involves sticking your neck out.  Please keep in mind that while I’m talking today about political leadership, I am using the term “political” in its broadest context.  Because politics is about how people collectively achieve objectives.  Ultimately, all organizational leadership is political leadership.  One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt. "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, though your efforts be checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they linger in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." What's required is that you handle yourself in competition for leadership positions in a way that impresses people and furthers your credibility and not in a way that will serve to disqualify you from future opportunities. I've only lost in one of my six campaigns for public office, when I ran for Attorney General in 1998 and lost by a very narrow margin. But I can tell you that I learned more from that experience than from all the elections I won and thankfully I handled myself in such a way that I remained a viable candidate for a variety of leadership positions in the future, including Attorney General.

I told you that good leaders are calculated risk takers and engage in realistic goal setting. They understand that setting and achieving short-term goals set you up for the achievement of longer-term goals. I think realistic goal setting is very important in the development of leaders and I include career goal setting in that. Bill Clinton may have decided in eighth grade that he wanted to be president of the United States but for most of us it simply doesn't work that way. I think my life is a pretty good example of how it typically works. (Explain)

I also believe sustained effective leadership requires personal balance and emotional support. That's why leaders should never lose sight of life's priorities-and that often means relationships. You should always seek positions of responsibility that are consistent with your personal, family and financial obligations in life. I've watched many people, particularly in politics, destroy relationships because they sought positions that undermined the financial or emotional security of those relationships.  That’s why I believe it’s important for people in leadership positions to have a well ordered personal life and have access to emotional support from friends and family as they face the significant challenges leadership can bring.

I’ve also found significant confusion about what true leadership entails.  I’ve encountered some people, particularly in politics, that think leadership is simply figuring out what your constituents want, or members of your organization want and trying to achieve it.  They’ve always got their finger in the wind and are prepared to advocate for whatever the majority seems to want.  Based on my experience, that’s not what good leaders do.  Leaders are not mere poll takers.  Real leadership involves in many instances convincing your constituents what they ought to want. (Examples, Mayor, Police Chief) Cognitive dissonance is a reality leaders have to confront.  Cognitive dissonance is people wanting two contradictory things at the same time – i.e. more government services and lower taxes.  The job of an effective leader is to shepherd them through a realistic prioritization process.  In perhaps the greatest single essay on American politics, Federalist Paper No. 10. James Madison wrote “the purpose of delegating decision making to a small number of citizens chosen by the rest is to allow them to refine and enlarge the public view and add deliberation and reason to that view.  What is essential is leaders sustained by the people’s support, but insulated from their merely momentary inclinations.  Leaders who have the opportunity to transcend the maelstrom of various private interests and engage in the deliberation and judgment necessary to achieve the public good.”  

I've mentioned the word credibility several times already. Effective leadership requires credibility. The people you lead must trust you to act in the best interest of those you lead. And herein lies a stark reality that limits the number of people who can become effective leaders. You see, credibility does not flow automatically from hard work and preparation. Credibility does not emerge from calculation or strategic sessions. Credibility emerges from character. It is expressed in qualities of an individual, not in the quantity of their time and effort.  Character and credibility are essential to effective leadership.  As character and resulting credibility fades from the discourse of American leaders, a sinister plague of hyperbole and untruth threatens our country's health and well-being.

I hope that all of you have also come to the conclusion that character and effective leadership are inseparable. I guess that I could hypothesize a scenario where a person of poor character could, on the basis of his own self-interest, assume a leadership role on a short-term basis. I suspect Hitler would be my prime example.  You might even get elected President of the United States without getting high marks for character.  But getting elected and leading are different tasks.  It is apparent to me that sustained and truly effective leadership in a position of high responsibility is typically province of people of good character.

In exploring the topic of the role of character in good leadership I would like to share with you two closely related concepts, neither of which are new and neither of which originate with me. The first is that of the "virtuous citizen" first discussed by Greek philosophers.  And the second is the concept of "obedience to the unenforceable", a phrase first coined by an English judge named John Fletcher Multon, about a century ago. I believe that these concepts are extremely pertinent to discussion of character and leadership in the 21st-century. In fact, I do not believe that an American, blessed to live in a nation which affords tremendous personal freedom, can be a person of good character without being a virtuous citizen who is obedient to the unenforceable. Let me explain.

Since the days of Plato and Aristotle, our greatest thinkers understood that effective self-governance is wholly dependent upon a law-abiding citizenry; what these political theorists call a "virtuous citizenry." Now virtue is a word that may make some of you nervous. We should clarify its meaning as a political term. Virtuous citizenry does not require the sanctity of Mother Theresa of Calcutta or St. Francis of Assisi. Very few of us can achieve that. Rather, it simply requires a recognition of the importance of acting responsibly in your own interests, in the interests of your family, and in the interest of the community as a whole. The virtuous citizen exercises both civic and personal responsibility. As I indicated, America's form of government, to be effective, requires the vast majority of its citizens to be virtuous in that context. If you will reflect for a moment, that is not necessarily the case with other forms of government. The continued existence of a dictatorship may depend on the virtue of the dictator, but not on that of the citizenry. So to a successful monarchy depends on the virtue of the monarch. But in a free society such as ours, virtuous citizens in the legislature, the executive branch, the judiciary, the ballot box, the classroom, the corporate suite, the job site, and the church pulpit, are absolutely essential. And to the extent that our American society today is not virtuous enough, the political framework of our society is threatened.

The institutional structure of the United States of America, as engineered by the founders of this country, is wholly dependent upon civic virtue on the part of its lawmakers and its law enforcers, and it will generate beyond recognition if civic virtue is not continually nurtured and celebrated. Plato said that "the community suffers a little if its cobblers have become degenerate and pretentious, but if the guardians of the law and of the state who alone have the opportunity to bring good government and prosperity become a mere sham, then the community is ruined." Aristotle pointed out that the key to producing virtuous citizens is to teach children "habits of the heart". Virtuous citizenry learned early in life becomes a matter of habitual reflex rather than premeditated action.

Virtuous citizens do the right thing, because it's the right thing, regardless of whether anybody notices, and therein lies an excellent segue into this closely related notion of "obedience to the unenforceable." In his writings, John Fletcher Multon divided human action into three domains. First is the domain of the law, where he said our actions are prescribed by laws binding upon us which must be obeyed.  If we do not, the government will impose whatever consequences are necessary to coerce obedience. If you commit murder, you go to jail. If you don't pay your taxes, you suffer the consequences. But simply obeying the law to avoid the consequences of violating it, is not an act of good character, but rather of self-preservation.

The other extreme is the domain of free choice, which he said includes all those actions as to which we claim and enjoy complete freedom. No one suffers much consequence by the choices we make. No one cares much if I wear a red tie instead of a blue one. No one cares if you choose Colgate rather than Crest to brush your teeth. Good character is certainly not essential in this domain.

But in between the domain of the law and the domain of free choice, Judge Multon identified a domain in which our actions are not determined by law, but in which we should also not be free to behave in any way we choose, because of the consequences of our actions to ourselves and to those around us. In this domain, we act with greater or lesser freedom from constraint on a continuum which extends at one extreme from consciousness of duty, which is nearly as strong as the written law, to the other extreme which is viewed simply as good form appropriate in a given situation. Examples of actions on this continuum would include such infractions as adultery. No longer an act of criminal offense, but an act which has significant personal and societal ramifications. Or lying about your age to get into a movie for a cheaper price, or to secure a cheaper ski lift ticket. Seemingly not matters of much consequence, but ones that are at the root of good character. Matters that can profoundly influence the character development of your children that witness them. Lord Multon considered this area of action lying between the law and pure personal preference to be the domain of obedience to the unenforceable. The obedience in this domain is the obedience imposed by man upon himself and not by any external authority. It is your performance in the domain of obedience to the unenforceable that determines your character.  Obeying the law to avoid the consequences of disobedience does not make you a person of good character.  But doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, regardless of whether anyone notices, is the essence of good character.  Multon observed that the more civilized and enlightened a community of people are, the greater their dependence on the voluntary respect and support of the people for law and civil order. Ultimately, the rule of law depends upon the morality of people. Obedience to the unenforceable is required to give the rule of law the power of enforcement which is its essential character.

John Silber, The former president of Boston University, in a famous commencement address at Harvard, suggested that there is a serious decline in obedience to the unenforceable in today's America. He believes that television in combination with family dysfunction is the societal force most responsible for such decline. He suggested that television has become the most important educational institution in America and believes that the morays portrayed on primetime television have reinforced the notion that because no significant consequence attaches to various sexual and antisocial behaviors, the formative potential of the church, family and school to develop Virtuous citizens has been seriously eroded. Poorly parented children are especially vulnerable to this moral corruption. Silber is convinced, and I suggest we all should be, that the future of our country, our future happiness, and that of our children, depends decisively on whether we as individuals and collectively as a people have the fortitude to resist unhealthy cultural trends and to nurture civic virtue and practice obedience to the unenforceable. Sadly enough, demonstrating the type of character necessary for good leadership today often requires you to be somewhat countercultural. Our society today values celebrity over genuine achievement. And as we know, celebrity often stems from questionable character.

I believe the great challenge of America's third century is to reestablish through our families, our churches and our schools an understanding on the part of each of us of the extent to which the survival of our great nation depends on the virtue of its citizenry. We cannot allow ourselves to become too pessimistic. Americans have traditionally shown a great capacity for self-renewal. This nation is full of good people and good families. While the social problems we face may seem immense and overwhelming, I assure you that each one of us can be a part of the solution. In fact we must be part of the solution, for evil will flourish if good men and women do nothing. A community is a virtuous when the individuals who comprise it are virtuous. A well-ordered personal life promotes a well ordered family life, and a well ordered family life promotes a well ordered state. The solution begins with each and every one of us doing everything we can in our own world, in our own jobs, in our own churches, in our own schools, and most importantly in our own families, to promote civic virtue and obedience to the unenforceable. That's what people of good character do.  That's what good leaders do.

I was asked to say a word about crisis leadership. Quite simply exercising leadership based on good character will help prepare you for crisis leadership. Crisis leadership involves acquiring adequate knowledge to act in a crisis, engaging in adequate preparation, and understanding your proper role in the event of a crisis. The effective leader in crisis will calmly and deliberately play the assigned role as well as possible. He or she will not seek the limelight but at the same time will not shrink from the responsibility that comes with your leadership position. It's a crisis that typically exposes a leader as good or bad. You can't be a good leader unless you can effectively lead in a crisis.

Thank you again for the opportunity to join you this afternoon and share some of my observations about leadership.  As I said at the outset, I’m certain that in this room today are leaders that will play a major role in the future of our great city.  I hope I’ve given you some things to think about in regard to the role of character in leadership.

Mayor Presents The Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pamela Shockley-Zalabak

Mayor presents awardMayor Suthers presented the Spirit of the Springs Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pamela Shockley-Zalabak for her incredible vision, leadership and stewardship, unparalleled efforts to promote economic growth and higher education in our region and truly remarkable contributions to the city of Colorado Springs. 

Dr. Zalabak has had a tremendous influence on our city’s economy, job creation and education. Under her leadership, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) has transformed from a tiny little college to a vibrant, major university and an economic force in Colorado Springs. UCCS is responsible for 6,200 jobs and forecasted to contribute $1 billion a year in economic impact by the year 2020.

The campus growth has not only transformed the university, it continues to transform Colorado Springs with ongoing projects like the national cybersecurity center, a sports medicine and performance center and a world-class visual and performing arts center. Dr. Zalabak’s vision, inspiration and leadership will continue to shape our city and Southern Colorado for generations to come.


Voters to be asked to allow City to retain $6 million for stormwater

*UPDATE*:City Council referred a question to the April 4, 2017 municipal election ballot asking voters to allow the City to retain $6 million for stormwater, by Resolution 7-17.


For more information about the April 4, 2017 municipal election, visit coloradosprings.gov/election

Mayor recommends asking voters to allow City to retain $6 million for stormwater

In 2016, the economy improved and as a result sales tax and other revenue increased, ultimately growing faster than allowed by TABOR. Mayor Suthers is recommending that City Council place a question on the April ballot asking voters to allow the City to retain $6 million in excess revenue in 2016, and up to the same amount in 2017, to be used for designated stormwater projects. 

“The city has a significant and urgent funding need in stormwater, which is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against Colorado Springs by the EPA.  We must remain laser-focused on addressing that issue,” said Mayor Suthers. “This is an opportunity to invest now, when the economy is good, and meet these needs without cutting vital services such as public safety when we have a lean year in the future.”

Should this potential ballot measure pass, any remaining excess revenue would be refunded to residents through a credit on their utility bill. Doing this, rather than refunding it as a property tax rebate, is a more equitable solution as it does not limit the refund only to homeowners.  Those contributing the money (via sales tax) would get the money back.

CDOT Announces Acceleration of Planning for I-25 Project

Resolving congestion on I-25 is a top priority that could have a significant positive impact on commerce between cities in Southern Colorado. The Colorado Springs City Government is working with other communities and organizations with the same goal – upgrading that corridor.

On Friday, January 6, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced plans to accelerate the environmental and planning process for improvements on I-25 from C470 to Colorado Springs, with attention to the gap area from Monument to Castle Rock.  

By accelerating the environmental planning for I-25, CDOT will have a project ready for construction by summer 2019 - with a project fully constructed between Castle Rock to Monument in five years - if funding is identified for construction.

Read more about the announcement on CDOT's website.

Colorado Springs residents are invited to a presentation on this important project hosted by CDOT on January 24 from 5 - 7 p.m. at Library 21C. More details: https://goo.gl/sys7O7

A year in review: 2016 highlights from the City of Colorado Springs

It’s 2017!  As we celebrate the New Year, let’s take a look back at the many highlights from the City of Colorado Springs’ busy 2016. From newly paved roads, new community plans and continued growth in many areas, there is much to be proud of and much more to look forward to in the coming year.

1) PlanCOS

PlanCOS got its start in 2016, but it won’t end there. PlanCOS is a new comprehensive plan that will shape the future of our city for years to come with community input guiding the way.

The City has not updated its comprehensive plan in 15 years, meaning there is a lot to plan and a lot of possibilities. The initial phase in the two-year PlanCOS process asks citizens, “What do you want Colorado Springs to be in 10 years?”

Take the survey and learn more about the plan here.

2) Miles upon miles of road improvements

With a boost from the voter-approved 2C road improvement tax, crucial road repairs were made throughout the city in 2016. In total, 254 lane miles were paved and over 62,000 potholes were repaired. In addition, crews did maintenance work on 688 lane miles of roadway, replaced 254 miles of curb and gutter and installed 367 new pedestrian ramps.

3) Strong Economy

From a stellar housing market to an unemployment number below 4 percent, Colorado Springs is closing out the year with a strong and healthy economy.  Over 7,700 jobs were created this year with the biggest increases coming from the health, social services, accommodations and food, education and professional technical services industries.

4) Colorado Springs Airport soars

The Colorado Springs Airport continues to attract new business and passengers, adding more tourism and commerce to the Southern Colorado area.

Overall, the Airport was expected to close out the year with a 10 percent increase in passengers. With a big boost in numbers coming as a result of Frontier Airlines returning to the airport and offering new non-stop service to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando. Watch for more growth at COS in 2017!

5) Top Ranked City

This past year was one of recognition for the city, earning a place on at least 12 notable “top 10” lists, putting us among many other top cities for rankings such as Best Place to Live, Best Mountain City, Best Midsize City for New Grads, and Best City for Veterans.

See a full list of recognitions here.

6) Springs Rescue Mission

The city directed $2.5 million in federal funds towards the Springs Rescue Missions new facility that opened in November with 168 shelter beds to help serve the homeless population in our community.

7) Mountain Metro Transit

Mountain Metropolitan Transit was named the Colorado Large Community Transit Agency of the Year. In 2016, MMT focused on improving customer experience by increasing frequency of service on key routes, adding more evening and weekend service, providing more direct routes and improving on-time performance.  

8) Public Safety

The Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) advanced several of their programs and partnerships in 2016 that made big strides in public safety services. One such program is the Community Response Team (CRT), a mobile mental health crisis response unit staffed by a fire department medical provider, a police officer, and a social worker from Aspen Pointe. The unit helped better serve the mental health needs of our community while reducing the impact on resources that could be committed to serve other emergency calls.   

9) Stormwater

Following an Inter-Governmental Agreement with Pueblo County in April, the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities committed to spending $460 million over 20 years for stormwater programming and infrastructure. And in 2016, several significant stormwater Capital Improvement Projects got their start. The projects range from mitigating flood dangers to stabilizing eroding creeks, all to make sure we can keep our water clean for our neighbors downstream and provide better protection against flooding in our community.

10) Great Strides in Developing and Maintaining Trails

The City has completed five of the eight voter-approved 2D-funded trail repair and improvement projects and also met several important milestones in the development of the Legacy Loop, a 10-mile recreational loop around downtown Colorado Springs. The Legacy Loop project is the vision of Colorado Springs’ founder General William Jackson Palmer, who dreamt of a vibrant, livable city where the essential functions of mobility and access are links to city parks, open space, and trails.

2016 MYLA Innovation in Education: Brittni Darras

After learning one of her students attempted suicide Brittni Darras, Rampart High School English teacher and Varsity Cheer Coach, decided to do something. She wrote a letter. That letter detailed how her student was important to her. After receiving that letter, Brittni’s student told her it helped save her life and gave her courage to push forward.

Brittni, then decided to write more letters, 130 letters to be exact. Her letters had a huge impact on her students, fellow teachers, high school and her district, Academy District 20. Unfortunately, the district has been dealing with a cluster of teen suicides. She also helped break the stigma of talking about suicide and mental health because her letter writing campaign was so impactful it was featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America and in The Washington Post.

Her letters helped shine a light on this terrible epidemic. The Pikes Peak Region has the highest rate of teen suicide in the country and Brittni provided a shining example that one person really can make a difference. She volunteers with Safe2Tell, an online anonymous program that empowers students, teachers and others to report important information about violent or troubling events before or after they have happened.

She is also the Committee Chair of  Bald for Bucks, an event that raised $50,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Brittni, your commitment for providing your students a place where they know they will be accepted and where they will not be judged is commendable.


The Mayor’s Young Leaders Award (MYLA) recognizes the outstanding achievements in five categories: Future Industries, Economic Impact, Creative Industry, Innovation in Education and Innovation in Sports and Wellness. Read more about 2016 winners and nominees here.


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