(COLORADO SPRINGS) — On Monday, City Council heard a detailed plan from Colorado Springs city leaders on why taxpayers should approve spending nearly five million dollars for a new police training facility.
Mayor Yemi Mobolade has been in office more than 100 days and is passionate about this proposal to train and bring more officers into the city.
“This training, new training academy that we desperately so need is one of the ways that we can improve our response time, improve retention, and also improve with our recruitment efforts,” said Mobolade.
As more people move into the Pikes Peak region and begin to call it home, Mobolade stressed why safety measures need to be put in place.
“We’re growing and we must, as a city, be able to keep up with the infrastructure needed for our growth – we’re no longer that small city,” Mobolade said. “But we do have that small town feel and culture, which I want us to forever hold onto as ‘Smallarado Springs.'”
If approved, the plan would use excess tax revenues instead of refunding Colorado Springs Utilities customers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
“The thing with TABOR is that as opposed to just a few people receiving $21 in their electric bills of reimbursement, the electric bill, not everyone gets a benefit from that,” said Mobolade.
For Chauncy Johnson, he is one of several Colorado Springs community members who are concerned about this proposed plan.
“We just didn’t think this was a reasonable choice and asking taxpayers to fit the bill to pay for it,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure that we also keep our money that is deserving to us. I mean, it’s the type of refund for a reason, of course.”
Johnson created a petition online called Reform the Academy which has over three thousand signatures.
“Our concern is basically the relationships within the community,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the most important. You can’t ask to build a new police facility without bending and building those relationships that… haven’t been mended yet… and to ask those people to pay the bills, well it’s a little disheartening.”
Johnson is hopeful the money can instead go toward long-term housing and job initiatives to increase the city’s workforce.
“We’re seeing housing and prices skyrocket,” Johnson said. “It’s about $1,500 just to live here now, just if you want to pay rent. So, I mean, it’s pretty scarce right now, not just for people like me, a 23-year-old that’s trying to live here for a long time.”
Mayor Mobolade was on a listening tour last week and said there is strong support for this proposed plan, from both community members and from police officers.
“The $5 million will be directly invested in our ability to recruit, to retain and to also train not only our new officers, but current officers. So that we can improve our response time, so that we can have the best police department for the best city in the USA.”
City Council is set to vote on this proposal on Aug. 22 and if it is approved, voters will decide in the November election.