COLORADO SPRINGS — Mayor Suthers used his State of the City Address to highlight the progress the city has made in infrastructure, economic development, and providing shelter for the homeless.
Mayor Suthers highlighted the city's achievements in infrastructure development at the beginning of his speech. He claimed an early victory on closing the gap between Monument and Castle Rock, and he emphasized that the city has improved nearly 1300 miles of roads. He did acknowledge there was work still to be done.
The mayor focused his remarks related to COVID-19 on the city's rebound from the pandemic. Colorado Springs has regained 100% of the jobs the city lost during the pandemic, and he said the city has one of the best job markets in the country coming out of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the Mayor released his proposed 2022 budget to City Council.
In the Mayor's letter, which was released alongside the proposal, Mayor Suthers lists four main goals which are: promoting job creation, investing in infrastructure, building community and collaborative relationships, and excelling in city services.
Mayor Suther's spent time this year again talking about the issue of homelessness in Colorado. He claimed victory on the city's goal of ensuring there was enough shelter capacity for every unhoused person who wanted it.
He also spent time detailing the efforts of the Colorado Springs Fire Department's homeless outreach team, which has reduced police encounters and hospitalizations of homeless people. The Mayor's proposed budget contains funding to increase the number of these teams from 2 to 4.
The number of people experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs fell for a second straight year. The 1,156 people counted in this year's Point in Time (PIT) survey is 174 fewer than that population estimate in 2020.
However, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development waived the requirement to count people who are considered unsheltered meaning the true number is likely higher.
The Mayor also highlighted the city's success in building more affordable housing units. Mayor Suthers said the city is reaching its target of 1,000 affordable housing units built each year and that the number of housing units built with the low income housing tax credit increased from 3,000 to 6,100 in the past five years.
The mayor highlighted the city's booming economic development in the past decade. The city's GDP increased from $30 billion to $40 billion, an increase of 1/3 in just over 5 years.
The city added over 37,000 jobs in the past five years, many "high skilled and high paying," according to the Mayor.
Following his remarks on economic development, Mayor Suthers took umbrage with former President Trump's decision to switch the headquarters of Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama at the last minute. He said the decision was "extremely dissapointing," and that the fight to move the headquarters back to the city "is not over til it's over."
He believes the city has a good chance of overturning the last-minute decision, as the former President said the decision was based on politics and not on merit.
Mayor Suthers spent time on the city's own security as well. He said the city plans to add 120 police officer positions by 2022, with plans to open a new substation in Eastern Colorado Springs. There are also plans in the works to increase the amount of fire departments across the city.
There were significant sporting achievements to celebrate. Mayor Suthers spent time talking about the new development of Weidner Field, and he highlighted how if the people who lived and trained in Colorado Springs were their own country, it would have finished 5th in the Tokyo Olympics and 11th in the Paralympics.
The Mayor made sure to point out how important he viewed the two ballot issues being voted on this election cycle. He stressed how important issue 2C was, and how the parks and trails the city is so celebrated for need more funding as the city grows. The tax would increase from 1 cent to 2 cents on every $10 purchase, and the money would be earmarked for trail development and maintenance, as well as for the acquisition of new public land and open space.
Issue 2D would create a fire mitigation fund of $20 million, which would be overseen by the fire department and a civilian oversight board. Any revenue going over the $20 million would be refunded back to citizens on their utility bills.
He ended his speech with a call to action for Colorado Springs residents. He said it "is up to us to take the necessary steps to ensure the city has the natural resources, the infrastructure, and the economy" to maintain the city's high quality of life, and that "it is up to us to be the good ancestors that future residents need us to be."
The State of the City address was hosted by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC and presented by GE Johnson.
The speech started at 12:15 P.M. News 5 streamed the speech live on our website, Facebook, and on your favorite streaming device, and you can watch the full remarks on our Youtube and Facebook pages.