Stiegelmeier: The benefits of collaboration
October 17, 2012
I have been honored to represent the people of Summit County for almost four years. During these four years, the county has faced some significant challenges and I believe I met those challenges with outstanding outcomes for the county. A few wins for the county include:
> Restructuring county government to be the leaner, greener and more efficient government that we are today in response to the unprecedented declines in property tax revenues. This was accomplished in a proactive manner, so that we are on a sustainable path moving forward, including preparation for an additional 5 percent decline in residential property values that will hit us in 2014.
> The county is in a more secure position with higher revenue reserves in place than ever before in Summit County’s history.
> Collaboration as a way of doing business with other government, nonprofit and private entities, including the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, joint Harris Street community center and library project, workforce housing projects, road and bridge consolidations, recpath system additions, Zero Waste Task Force and shooting range task force.
As a benefit to all of us, these partnerships save taxpayer dollars. They also create beneficial projects for multiple parties, rather than government authoritarianism. Collaborative processes definitely take more time and work up front. However, the long-term, lasting power and community involvement create successful lasting solutions.
The relocation of the South Branch Library to the historic Harris Street building is a good example of collaboration. It achieves many shared goals, including renovation and historic preservation, a wide range of public and community uses for a cultural or community center, meeting and event rooms, movie theater and a library, while saving millions of tax dollars. The county is now able to retain the valuable property behind our current South Branch Library for future county needs.
I am also extremely proud of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement with long-term benefits for citizens today and into the future. This is a historic first, and a model for sharing scarce resources. Collaboration means using our collective resources efficiently and getting real benefits for citizens of Summit County, rather than wasting resources with conflicts and litigation.
Good collaboration with our local bicyclists, combining local dollars with federal and state grants and innovative planning has given us additional recpath assets, Bicycle Friendly Community status, more fun and the ability to grow the economic benefit of this expanding summer recreation.
A most critical collaboration is in protecting our environmental assets through open space purchases, conservation easements, good management and working in partnership with our local national forest office, Friends of Dillon Ranger District and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This helps to conserve our public lands and wildlife through a combination of appropriate management and wilderness for future generations. These protections provide long-term economic sustainability through thoughtfully developed recreation opportunities and the preservation of pristine and ecologically important wild areas.
Contrary to common misconception, the current wilderness proposals put forth by Congressman Polis and Senator Udall do not involve the closure of any trails, thanks to the collaborative process.
With this balance, our communities will continue to be known for their world-class activities and iconic landscapes drawing millions of visitors, and benefiting from the related jobs and revenues our businesses depend upon. I believe the work that I have done to protect our water and land resources is essential for protecting our quality of life and Summit County’s future recreation economy.
I hope voters will support me because of my record of doing good work for the people of Summit County. I want to continue to move forward in these established directions with our reduced financial revenues, sharing resources, looking to the future and ensuring a Summit County that our grandkids and great grandkids will be able to enjoy.
Karn Stiegelmeier is the Democratic incumbent county commissioner for District 3 and lives in unincorporated Summit County.