When Times Got Tough, Colorado Springs Residents Replaced Taxes With Self-Reliance

And the world did not end


Colorado Springs, CO — More than a third of the city's 24,512 streetlights went dark. Some 393 trash cans were removed from 128 neighbourhood parks. Public drinking fountains ran dry and park bathrooms were locked. Buses stopped running at 6:15 p.m. and pools shuttered. Irrigation at city parks was ramped down, yielding thirsty, yellowing, brittle grass. Roads deteriorated into a Swiss cheese of potholes and crumbling curbs.

This was Colorado Springs circa spring 2010. The mountain town was still reeling from the recession, its coffers hit by a steep decline in the sales tax revenues it depends on so heavily. The government was spending more than it was bringing in, it had too many employees, and it was being drained by an unsustainable pension scheme.

And by virtue of how it has handled its fiscal crisis, the city lived up to its reputation as a tax-wary, libertarian outpost in the American frontier.