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A few ways to save the Beidleman Environmental Center

Tonight's the night. At 7:00 p.m. at City Hall in the third-floor City Council Chambers you will have the opportunity voice your opinion about City Manager Lorne Kramer's proposed city budget, which includes cutting the Beidleman Environmental Center and its modest $83,845 annual budget that helps the center teach between 8,500 and 10,000 school children per year about invaluable things like water conservation, Xeriscaping, and local wildlife.

If you can't make it, be sure to e-mail your opinions to

budget@colospgs.co.us, or fax it to them at 385-5790.

Here're a few questions I'd like to ask Mr. Kramer at the meeting.

1). Are Patty Jewett and Valley Hi golf courses considered "basic services"?

I was just wondering because at a recent question-and-answer session with the media, Lorne Kramer said that he was cutting the Beidleman Center's budget because it is "not a basic service."

However, if you look on page 10-4 of the Colorado Springs 2003 city budget, we are reminded that: "According to the strategic goals outlined in Direction 2000, the City of Colorado Springs will 'play a leadership role in preserving a sustainable quality of life and protecting the environment in Colorado Springs.'"

2). It's next to impossible to dispute the environmental impact of a golf course, so why not add an environmental impact fee to fund the Beidleman Center?

Paul Butcher, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, points out that both Patty Jewett and Valley Hi use effluent (non-potable) water to keep the grass green, and golf courses have to use large amounts of fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides to keep the grass nice and tidy. On top of that, effluent water into which these chemicals are dissolved often leeches into, and contaminates, the ground water.

3). If everyone working for the City is getting a raise next year, why don't we go ahead and raise the price of golf at Valley Hi by $1 per round (as an environmental impact fee) and use that extra dollar per round for Beidleman?

Hey, at least city employees can afford it!

The cost of golf is only $20 a round as it stands now (compared to $140 at the Broadmoor!), so what's another dollar? Sadly, because of deed restrictions, the City can't touch any of the money that Patty Jewett earns. But Valley Hi is a different story, and the City could easily divert funds from the course's earnings to Beidleman.

Besides, according to the city budget, people using Valley Hi golf course will play an estimated 84,178 rounds next year. If you aren't familiar with advanced multiplication, 84,178 rounds of golf x $1 = $84,178.

Butcher thinks it's a "rate payer issue," and that people using the course probably won't want to spend that extra dollar to pay for something that has nothing to do with the golf course. That's funny, because I don't really want to give city employees a raise either, but I don't have much choice about it.

4). If none of the above ideas work, why don't we ask the City Manager's Office to forfeit half of their raise this year (totaling $189,812 in salaries and benefits)?

If you average that out between the nine full-time employees in Kramer's office, that comes out to almost $22,000 per person. Why should two people lose their jobs teaching kids and adults environmental awareness while Kramer fattens his already hefty tax-payer-based salary that was already $150,000 last year.

And frankly, Mr. Kramer, your raise ain't a "basic service" either.

--nblack@csindy.com

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