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"Employees are the biggest part" of Colorado Springs budget

Low unemployment, good economy, mean pay increases
Posted: 4:48 PM, Dec 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-05 21:13:41-05
Overhead look at the City of Colorado Springs downtown

COLORADO SPRINGS — In Colorado Springs the city's growth and rising cost of living pose challenges for paying competitive salaries to the city's sworn and civilian employees, but city leaders believe they got it done for 2020.

City leaders aim to add more officers and more firefighters with competitive pay in the years to come. Even the city's civilian employees are seeing a pay increase thanks to the growth of Colorado Springs and a booming economy.

When you hear about the potential for the City of Colorado Springs it seems like the sky's the limit, but when it comes to crafting a budget for 2020 paying city workers comes first.

"Our employees are the biggest part of the budget. Here at the city we are a service industry. So we want to make sure we take care of them and are able to compensate them fairly," said Colorado Spring Chief Financial Officer Charae McDaniel.

With the rising cost of living and the growth of the city, employees are demanding more.

"We're working hard as a city organization to be able to attract the best talent that we can and to retain them. This is a particularly tough market over the past 36 months to be able to keep our employees and so keeping pace with the rates of pay is particularly difficult," said Colorado Springs Chief Human Resources Officer Mike Sullivan.

Even with those challenges, the 2020 budget calls for competitive pay for first responders and a big investment in public safety. 20 new cops and 8 firefighters are scheduled to hit the streets. In the next five years the city hopes to add 120 officers and 32 firefighters.

"We're very pleased to keep our sworn employees, our fire and police at market again this year. This will be the third cycle through that we've been able to maintain their market pay," said Sullivan.

Civilian employees are also expected to see an increase in pay. The city's financial experts say a thriving local economy is making it all possible.

"The thing that is really keeping us afloat is and keeping us going is our consumer confidence. Consumers are still spending. They are doing well because we have a very low unemployment rate. The jobs are filled and being able to contribute to the economy that's keeping us very strong," said McDaniel.

City leaders will meet next Tuesday December 10th at 10am for their regularly scheduled city council meeting.

If you would like to see more details on the Colorado Springs 2020 budget: https://coloradosprings.gov/budget/page/city-budget

The city employee pay schedule: http://coloradosprings.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=fcf71185-8659-4725-a120-52541d47f024.pdf