The Town Trustees will be meeting at the Mocha Moose on Tuesday, February 4th from 10 a.m. to no later than 2 p.m. to discuss a work program for the Board and staff for 2014. The workshop will be facilitated by Elyse Ackerman-Casselberry, the Northwest Regional Manager of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Below is the agenda and a presentation on government official and staff roles and responsibilities. No public comment will be taken. This is an opportunity for the Trustees to discuss projects and plans previously considered and come to consensus on priority tasks for this next year. The Trustees will vote on their work program at their regular February 5th meeting and public comment will be taken at that time. This is an open meeting held in an informal format and anyone is welcome to come and listen.
Tomorrow - Friday, January 24 - our test well drilling for water service will arrive in Lake City. The purpose of their visit is to determine the availibility and feasibility of additional water wells to serve our residents and guests using our water system. This is not something we get to schedule, they arrive when they finish the customer before us. It will most likely take them two days to get ready for the actual drilling so we anticipate they will start drilling Sunday or Monday, January 26 or 27th. There are six test sites - one is near the school so we have requested that they drill that site when school is NOT in session because the drilling is noisy. They will most likely start with that one first. The other five sites are near the Armory, on 3rd St between Silver and Gunnison, on 3rd St between Gunnison and Henson, on 6th Street between Silver and Gunnison and on 6th St between Gunnison and Henson. We do not know the order of drilling at this time. The drilling will be loud and there will be tailings. The drillers will only drill between 8 am and 5 pm, normal business hours. The area around the drilling will be cordoned off to protect public safety. If you have any questions, please call Town Hall at 944-2333.
As many of you know, I’m conducting interviews with a wide and diverse group of community members to find out how I can best serve you as your Town Manager. Many people mentioned wanting more “transparency”. A “transparent” government means many things to many people. Here are some more words that people can have long heated discussions about without ever realizing they are talking about different issues: development, growth, fairness, progress, collaboration, bureaucracy, etc. etc. So I asked people what they need to see out of the Town of Lake City to feel that we are being transparent. Mostly what I heard is people want to know what is going on, what is up for decision and how to participate in the decision-making process, and how to propose a project to the Town. We are going to be addressing those needs in a number of ways over the coming months with your good suggestions and government best practices for achieving those objectives.
Meanwhile, my thoughts on transparency. For some, transparent government only means following the letter of the law – open and noticed meetings, agendas, minutes and records done properly so that you can access past decisions and documents, public disclosure of conflicts of interest, etc.
But there is a more foundational aspect to “transparency” that today’s community member wants – to be involved, to be valued and to be heard. Government has been changing the way we do business to accommodate those very democratic desires and I’ve devoted my career to making sure all community members have access to the process in a way that informs decision-makers and helps the community make better decisions. In Lake City, what I’m hearing is that you want to see information and reports online, have access to your government representatives and staff, have the ability to speak at the trustees meetings and to propose a project or discuss an idea, and help guide the community forward with more “bottom up” community planning. People don’t want to just react to other’s future plans, but be in on the planning from the idea stage on in an inclusive process.
The Orton Foundation funded a guide to defining and encouraging an open, inclusive government and I can’t say it better myself: “Inclusive, open governments are ones that encourage community members to fully understand and participate in governance and decision making. To accomplish this, they work to build and maintain strong relationships with community members, communicate and share information regularly, and reach out to citizens whose voices are not normally heard. Open governments promote transparent procedures so that residents know how things work, what to expect, and when to weigh in. Inclusive, open governments know that trust and transparency makes them more effective, and that engaging residents and tapping into local wisdom expands their capacity to solve problems and get things done.”
Why does this matter?
“As community challenges become more complex, as public budgets become smaller, and as pubic trust and good will for government become less generous, local governments are learning that a cooperative, transparent approach is more effective and efficient than an executive, closed-door approach.”
Summary – A government that works through collaborative leadership, builds trust, leverages the good will and skills of the community, draws on their unique knowledge and experience, and builds future capacity by bringing people into the process may be able to deliver amenities and services more effectively and with the most conservative use of resources.
I have learned that this community went through some painful times recently and that hurt and divisiveness still exist among those who felt the impacts. My hope is that we come to some way that these hurts will be healed and that as we go forward - acknowledge that we are all human beings who do the best we can with what we know at the time, make mistakes, have regrets, need forgiveness and a chance to change and move forward.
What is so hopeful to me is how passionate this community is, how united people are about offering the best amenities for residents and guests, and how willing people are to pitch in their time, money and resources to make it happen. I hope you can all realize from an new transplant’s perspective, this town is blessed with great people who have a common vision for the good of the community despite past disagreements. I’ll do my part by continuing to offer ways for you to know more about Town government and keep you better and more easily informed about "how things work, what to expect, and when to weigh in." Thank you for allowing me to work with this uniquely committed and visionary community.
FYI – especially for the Ball Flats neighborhood: This weekend, Greg from our Public Works staff discovered a leak in the 8" water main under the 8 1/2 Street Bridge (Ocean Wave). The leak appears to be a slow "weeping" one - about 50 gals per day - and because of the type of pipe and the way it was inset under the bridge, it is very hard to access. Greg has been monitoring the leak and has contacted the installer to see what he would suggest to pinpoint the area where the pipe is leaking (it is not possible to determine that at this time) and how to best repair it. At this point, because it is slow, we are going to wait and determine what the best course of action is. Greg is also investigating possible repair methods and is aware that repair is more complicated by its location near the Lake Fork. If you have any questions or want to report something new and unusual you see in the area, please don't hesitate to call Town Hall at 944-2333.
We have a Trustee’s meeting tomorrow:
Our workshop at 6pm will be a workshop to hear a presentation from the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy from Brett Jordon. The discussion will focus on Hydrogeological issues on the River.
On the regular agenda at 7:00 on is a report from the Lake San Cristobal Water Activity Enterprise and the Gunnison Basin Roundtable. DIRT – Lake City’s Mainstreet Program is requesting continued support for the program through a Memorandum of Understanding. There is an ordinance concerning the appointment of a Town Attorney, as well as a request to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the Lake San Cristobal Water Activity Enterprise. Lastly, the Trustee’s proposed a bonus to honor the hard work of City Clerk/Treasurer Cindy Nelson while she converts our financial software from the old to the new and there will be a vote whether to approve that.
Want to help with the Matt Milski Memorial Slalom February 1 at the Lake City Ski Hill? Trustee Henry Woods has opportunities for you to help set up the course on Friday afternoon January 31, to supervise kids in the Armory on Friday night, to cook meals for our guests from Silverton and to do registration and gate keeping on the day of the race. Read more about it here: http://www.lakecityswitchbacks.com/events-calendar.html
This past Sunday, you may have experienced water issues. We had a transformer blow in the pump house which caused problems for the pump. Public Works Director Jodi and Town Employee Clint Ediger responded to the problem quickly and the system was back on line within hours.
Bob Hurd, our Hinsdale County Road and Bridge Supervisor, stopped by this morning to bring me up to date on snowplowing. Since we have new folks in town, I’ll share what I learned about the Town’s agreement with the County re: snowplowing. Snowplowing is a large and unpredictable expense in county or city budgets. No one can predict a year in advance how much snow will have to be plowed. To address the greatest need and keep costs under control as much as is feasible, the Town has set a policy of plowing as follows:
Each time the County plows our Town streets, it literally costs thousands of dollars. That’s why we have a plan that limits plowing to what is necessary to keep us able to go about our business. Questions? Give Cindy Nelson or myself a call at 944-2333 or email me at email@example.com.
On the topic of my job, I’ve become aware in only two weeks that many people aren’t quite sure about my role in town government. The Town decided in September of 2003 to create the position of Town Manager. Basically, this position in a “statutory” town is like a CEO or Executive Director of a corporation or a non-profit. The Trustees are elected as your representatives and ensure that the will of the community is carried out in policies and budgeting priorities. The Trustees don’t get a blank slate, they have to adhere to the laws and requirements of both Federal and State of Colorado governments, but they are the final word on what projects and programs move forward. As Town Manager, I manage the day to day operations of the Town, supervise all the employees, distribute work load among the employees, and authorize expenditures within the budget that the Trustees have previously approved. If it’s not in the budget, or under the policy direction of the Trustees, I need to bring it before them. I don’t get to make significant decisions on my own. I don’t serve at the will of one or two Trustees, but at the will of the Trustees as they determine policy and budget priorities in their scheduled and noticed public meetings.
I’ve had several people ask me to support various town projects. My role is not to be swayed by my own opinion or the opinion of others, but to provide the Trustees as decision makers with the best possible technical, financial and comparative information to inform their decision. I also provide that information to you as community members. I will most often make a recommendation based on what is possible and feasible for the town based on cost/benefit for the community and on community priorities, and I will often discuss other options and consequences for certain choices. I don’t decide on my own where I personally would like to spend the money on my pet projects. That’s not my role. In many ways, being a Town Manager means giving up the freedom to have a public personal opinion within the community that I also live in. It’s difficult when you are a paid staff person in a small town because there is pressure to support one side of complex issues. Staff, however, is supposed to remain neutral and professional in conflict and provide technical support based on sound financial and community benefit rationale and let the Trustees make the decision as representatives of the people.
To sum up: You as a Lake City voter elect the Trustees and entrust them with representing the community’s best interest, the Trustees direct me and I direct the staff. I implement the community’s vision as interpreted by the Trustees by ensuring that the staff is carrying out their will through where staff spend’s their time and the Town’s money.
So what if you feel the community’s interests aren’t being carried out? That’s why Town business is conducted in public meetings. You can call your Trustees and express your concerns and/or write a letter (signed by you, we can’t consider anonymous letters) or come to a meeting. I hope to increase the ways and means by which we hear directly from the public. It’s something I’m passionate about and from what I understand, both the Trustees and the community want.