FCSG Statement on Proposed 2021 City Budget and Follow-up Letter

The FCSG sent the statement below to City Council on October 7th.  Council ended up not cutting the Air Quality or Climate Action Program budgets, and we sent the follow-up letter to council on November 2nd that is appended beneath the statement.

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The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) would like to bring to Council’s notice budget item 27.10, Reductions to the Air Quality program, and we would like Council to consider restoring this funding. This cut would adversely affect air monitoring, public education, and regional cooperation.

Given that:

• We live in an ozone non-attainment area;

• We are in the middle of one of the worst fire seasons ever in Larimer County, with unhealthy particulate numbers due to the smoke;

• We are headed for more seasons like this, and worse, due to climate change; and

• Air Quality is listed as a Council priority;

Air Quality is not the program to cut, and this is definitely not the time to do it. We need better monitoring of ozone and particulates, more regional cooperation, and more public education, not less. Yes, the pandemic has made budget cuts necessary, but we’ll be paying for these cuts in the future health of our citizens.

Along similar lines is budget item 27.9, Scaled Down Climate Commitment. This will cut funding for public education and community engagement. Last year, City Council unanimously agreed that we are in a climate emergency, and all we need do is look out the window to agree with that resolution. We should treat this as an emergency and not cut funding.

FCSG urges Council to seek cuts to less urgent programs. Failing that, we would ask Council to dig into reserves to pay for this. Those reserves are there to help us through extraordinary times, and if this doesn’t qualify, it is hard for us to imagine what does.

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Dear Mayor Troxell, Mayor Pro Tem Stephens, Councilmembers Cunniff, Gorgol, Gutowsky, Pignataro, and Summers,

In the course of receiving public input, I’m sure you hear many more complaints than compliments, so I’d like to take a moment to thank you for a recent decision on the City budget.  On behalf of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, we appreciate that despite the most challenging budget in recent memory, Council has seen fit to restore funding to the Air Quality and Climate Action programs by rejecting budget reduction items 27.9 and 27.10.

These are critical programs for the future health and welfare of the citizens of our city, and support the City’s 2019 declaration of a climate emergency. It would have been short-sighted, despite the budget shortfall, to make these cuts.  We are glad you agree.

Sincerely,

Nick Michell

Fort Collins Sustainability Group Steering Committee Member

Author: Kevin Cross

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