As our amazingly tranquil Colorado Springs municipal election winds down, with signs pointing toward a low turnout, we’re almost lulled into forgetting that many changes might be coming to city government soon.
With new members joining City Council, that group will elect officers soon after the election ends April 7. (Though the mayoral race might well lead to a runoff, the City Council races won’t.) So we’ll know in a few weeks whether Keith King will continue as Council president, whether a different makeup could alter the group’s personality and, because of a ballot issue, whether Council can go ahead and hire more staff of its own, in particular an attorney.
If the top vote-getter for mayor surpasses 50 percent, then we could be listening to an inaugural speech from Steve Bach’s replacement on April 21 after a swearing-in ceremony. If there is a runoff, as many expect, that pushes everything back to a second mail vote, ending May 19 with the new mayor taking office on June 2.
We know that lots of high-profile agenda items will be coming forward in the days ahead, especially from the newly elected mayor. We’d like to add something else to the list, though it hasn’t been mentioned by a single candidate during this campaign.
Transparency. In particular, we’re talking about the city sharing its basic statistical data, the kind of numbers that any citizen ought to be able to access with ease.
The most important statistical reports, which haven’t been easily found by Internet for months, include the city’s sales and use tax revenue reports, the Mountain Metro monthly bus usage totals by route and the city’s bed and car tax revenue.
Actually, we in the media deserve a slap on the wrist for not having brought this up sooner.
When we decided to do some checking, simply to reflect the area’s economic health and mass-transit trends, we hit a wall and even got an “access denied” message for the sales tax reports. Our assumption was that those categories of information slipped through the cracks when the city changed to a new website last year, moving from springsgov.com to coloradosprings.gov. (We had similar concerns about the airport passenger numbers, but we eventually found those.)
We were hoping that there would be a quick, easy solution, some kind of link that we didn’t see. After asking the city communications office, we learned that, indeed, those monthly reports do exist online, but they’re very difficult to find. There’s nobody to blame for this, but now that it has been brought to the city’s attention, we strongly suggest that improvements be made as soon as possible, since practically every candidate for mayor or City Council would agree.
For years, all of those reports have been posted online — not just for media to see, but for anyone. In fact, we think it would be appropriate now, with the change in administration, to have a specific drop-down menu item on the coloradosprings.gov homepage, clearly showing a list of where to click for a variety of monthly reports including, but not limited to, tax revenue, bus usage and airport numbers.
That’s the kind of information we, and the general public, need to track the city’s progress in many areas. And we hope all of that information is made easily available.