Fort Collins has a drug problem.

It’s evident in seemingly safe places — our parks and natural areas — with used syringes and needles carelessly scattered on grassy areas, under bushes and even on playgrounds.

The problem has been around for a long time. But it has become so pervasive, city officials are considering hiring contractors with experience in handling hazardous waste to assist in cleaning up messes left by transient and local drug users.

Among proposed additions to the city’s 2018 budget is $130,000 to cover the cost of cleaning up encampments in natural areas.

Officials told City Council members this week they are not sure if that would be enough. A recent camp cleanup at Gustav Swanson Natural Area cost $3,500, said Mike Calhoon, director of parks.

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