Mayor says state of city is A-OK

Posted 4/30/09

When the topic switched to the economic downturn, no one was surprised. But what may be surprising is despite a weak economy, the City of Littleton …

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Mayor says state of city is A-OK


When the topic switched to the economic downturn, no one was surprised.

But what may be surprising is despite a weak economy, the City of Littleton is faring pretty well, which was the message in Mayor Doug Clark’s State of the City address to the Littleton Rotary in April.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy but Littleton will remain a healthy and viable city,” Clark said.

By Clark’s account, city finances are under control thanks to the city’s conservative approach to future economic growth, and the city has “more than adequate reserves.”

He said Littleton’s revenues have been down about 6 percent since December, and the General Fund revenues are down about 8 percent — a reflection of the national economy.

If the trend continues, the city could lose a total of about $1.4 million in sales and use tax. It also stands to lose about $3 million in the General Fund which is currently totaled at about $45.8 million, according to the adopted budget.

But Littleton is more financially sound than most of the Denver Metro area, Clark said.

“Littleton is in a very strong financial position now. Littleton is a desirable place to live, it’s safe, and we’re facing the economic challenges head on,” Clarks said.

A foreclosure rate of less than 1 percent is also a sign that Littleton is weathering the storm better than other communities in the area, according to the mayor.

Littleton’s housing climate is also due to several other factors, including the ratio of single-family homes to multi-family homes. The number of rental units versus owner-occupied homes, places Littleton in the “top end of the metro area,” Clark said.

Compared to Highlands Ranch houses, the price per square foot in Littleton exceeds that of its neighbor.

Clark also noted that the value of houses in Littleton matches the value in Highlands Ranch, according to the most recent county assessment.

“Littleton is a desirable place to live,” he said.

As for the northeast neighborhoods in the city, which account for the largest Hispanic, single-mother population, the city is working to improve housing in that area.

Last year, the city implemented a program in which it plans to inspect every rental unit in the city to make sure it’s up to code and “livable.”

The northeast neighborhoods of the city are a major focus area for inspections.

As of April 1, 350 units in 21 buildings had been inspected. Only two buildings have passed the entire process.

The rest of Littleton’s population is predominately made up of white, English-speaking people.

According to the 2000 census, 92 percent of Littleton is white. Only 4 percent record themselves as not speaking English very well, Clark said.

And he says there’s an on-going debate over the actual median age in Littleton.

Regardless of the number, the age of Littleton residents is affecting school district enrollment.

Despite a growing city population, there are fewer elementary-aged school kids, which forced the district to close two schools.

But this is not the first time this has happened, Clark said.

Years ago, the school board voted to close a school on what is now the north end of Arapahoe Community College. The board also re-purposed a school during that time.

“This is a true testament to the board to fix the problem instead of letting it fester,” Clark said about the recent school closures at Ames and Whitman elementary schools.

Clark also attributed the health of the city and its schools to highly educated, highly active citizenry.

“I like to characterize Littleton citizens as being tree-hugging, conservative, rocket scientists that are involved in the community,” he said. “We’re very lucky to have the group of citizens that we do.”

The city is also lucky to have a strong police force. While the population of Littleton is increasing, the number of crimes is going down. In 1985 there were 2,000 reported crimes. In 2007, that number was 1,300.

“Littleton is in healthy financial position. Littleton is a safe and is a desirable place to live. We’re expending energy in the northeast neighborhoods, and we have a substantial cash reserve to help us weather the storm,” Clark concluded.


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