Government efficiency meetings long on ideas, short on attendance
SUMMIT COUNTY – In the last year, Dillon has proposed annexing Keystone; Silverthorne and Dillon have started exploring joint marketing efforts; and Summit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom has floated the idea of a City and County of Summit.
Yet at the third of three workshops conducted last week by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) in an effort to explore further means of cost-savings cooperation between local governments, only four people showed up.
“The quality was better than quantity,” NWCCOG Executive Director Gary Severson said. “It’s tough to get people excited about government efficiency, but the ideas that were generated from the people that did attend, I thought were very high quality.”
At the prompting of the Board of County Commissioners, NWCCOG held the workshops on three successive Thursdays beginning on July 31.
The ideas they spurred ranged from the formation of one public works department to the consolidation of fire and police services into two single countywide departments.
“What was driving it was the fact that all local governments have had to really look at their budgets after eight or nine years of pretty unprecedented growth and where revenues were simply not a problem,” Severson said. “All of a sudden, revenues dropped, so the question that all governments had to ask was, “How do we maintain the level of services that were providing?'”
“(The county was) certainly one of the governments that was facing the hard choices and it was looking for creative ideas from the citizens for things that maybe it hadn’t thought of itself,” he said.
Severson said one of the more promising thoughts the brainstorming sessions generated was the possibility of creating a unified recreation district that would undertake responsibility for the operation and maintenance of parks, ballfields and school playgrounds.
“That was probably the most universal (in its support),” Severson said.
One Frisco resident with experience in guiding corporate mergers proposed the formation of a select committee of citizens to review the suggestions generated and make recommendations to local officials.
“I think we achieved our goal, (which) was to collect some good ideas,” said Liz Finn, NWCCOG’s director of member services. “The next step is to take this list of ideas and pass this list of ideas on to the Mayors, Managers and Commissioners group.”
Severson, who agreed that the overall results of the workshops was productive, said the initiative to turn the brainstorming sessions into action was now the responsibility of local officials.
“Now the ball is in the court of the Summit County commissioners,” he said. “It’s up to them to take a look and see what they want to do with some of those ideas.”
Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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