Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.
One year ago, April 7, I was honored to be elected as the second At-Large City Council member for the City of Glenwood Springs.This anniversary, along with other prompts have caused me to reflect on this year, and the circumstances leading to my decision to run for office. In many ways, this year has flown by. In other respects, it seems like a slow slog through knee deep mud.
Three words were prevalent in my campaign.
STRONG. CONNECTED. COMMUNITY.
To me these words were more than an empty slogan. Although they were words that could be strung together in one sentence, they were meant to stand alone. Each word has meaning for me. They relay my values and what I hope I have brought to this position. In looking over what I hope to accomplish while in office, words that were written as I made my decision to run, I see that some things are happening, but there is much more yet to be done.
In this series I will review some council accomplishments as well as some things yet to do.
STRONG, RESILIENT ECONOMY AND A FISCALLY SOUND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT
Development Code Re-write: Among my goals in this area was a revision of the city’s development code. The need for this became readily apparent while I sat on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Most land use applications that came before the commission had at least six variance requests and some came with many, many more. The lack of new “attainable” housing units, is a perfect example of why not only the code but the process needed to change. This is currently underway.
City Financial Backbone: The City has been using software from 1987, with the last upgrade done in 2003. The issues included lack of integration, resulting in hours of manual entry on the part of staff. Time and attendance reporting are not automated or integrated, which requires about 70 hours of time per month. The public cannot pay for utilities, park fees, building permits, etc., on line. Reporting is slow and requires extensive staff time. We are currently underway with a new financial backbone system and it will be implemented in phases over the next two years.
Budget Process: Accountability and transparency are key in this area. Council must be good stewards of the citizen’s funds. As council liaison to the Financial Advisory Board, I have advocated for more involvement by this group of financially astute individuals in the city’s budget process. Last year was spent observing the current process and the board is in the process of making recommendations to City Council on changes that could be made. Additionally, with the help of Interim City Manager Drew Gorgey, this board is revamping the city’s discretionary and tourism grant process to provide clearer direction and more accountability.
Local and Regional Partnerships: Building these relationships will enable us to collectively solve regional issues. This council and Garfield County have a good working relationship — even if we don’t always agree. Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) has also been a great partner in our work to obtain a permanent 8th Street Connection and resolving some issues for residents in the Cole Subdivision. I sit as an alternate on the RFTA Board.
I have met with fellow council members from Carbondale and Rifle to discuss issues in our communities. The City’s relationship with CDOT has been one of cooperation. We are facing a long, difficult construction period and we must maintain a good working connection with CDOT and their contractors.
The city is continuing to work closely with the Roaring Fork School District on various school projects, including a land swap which enabled Glenwood Elementary to remain a central fixture in our core. Both city and RFSD are working to resolve an issue with the designated park lands and finalize the swap.
Additionally we have been working with a group that is interested in seeing a Detox facility built in or near Glenwood. Players include Valley View Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Garfield County, Mind Springs Health, law enforcement agencies from Rifle to Carbondale. Sadly it appears that this public/private partnership is in need of a champion to carry this forward. The city is currently at capacity, as I imagine are other entities. Any volunteers?
I am participating in Garfield County’s Economic Development Partners, Club 20 and Northwest Colorado Council of Governments as well as many Department of Local Affairs and Colorado Municipal League events.
Partners4Glenwood (P4G) is another group designed to leverage local knowledge and talent to bring a fresh approach to issues impacting the city and to lend a hand when possible.
City Hall is in a transition period, which is not easy. It is not easy for staff, department heads, the public or council. City Council made some major changes in administration this year, which was not without pain. When you are dealing with real people, and making major changes it is extremely difficult. We currently have an Interim City Manager, Drew Gorgey, who is doing a great job and moving some key initiatives along. City Council is in the process of interviews for a permanent manager and we hope to have that accomplished by the end of June.
While we have started the ball rolling, there is still much to be done in this area. Glenwood needs to continue working to keep our local businesses thriving and those, like Meier Skis, in town. According to Place Value, a report done by the people I now work with, Community Builders, there are new trends in economic development. It is no longer about seeking and courting the big dogs. Instead it is more about Economic Gardening and knowledge based jobs. It is about training people to do the jobs that need to be done. It is about the revitalization of downtowns, the core of the city.It is about making places that people want to live and work. We know the major problem that faces many of our workers — housing. We must continue to work to increase the amount of attainable housing for our citizens
Stay tuned for CONNECTED & COMMUNITY and thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving you.