Business community needs a voice in city government
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
One of City Council’s primary functions should be oversight of the budget. It has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to use their funds appropriately. Each city department fund should be thoroughly discussed with the city manager and the department head before it is approved.
This year’s budget was not given that level of scrutiny by council. While one can debate the wisdom of passing a budget with a $6.7 million deficit, at least it should have been examined in greater detail.
In particular, I believe that the losses budgeted for the city landfill, electric, water and sewer funds should have been explored and understood.
Members of city council have justified the use of reserve funds for the completion of the Donegan Road and Atkinson trail projects, but those items account for less than one-third of the budgeted deficit.
As a result of the ongoing slide in sales tax revenues, the city is now taking steps to reduce spending with the possibility of layoffs and increased furloughs of personnel. These decisions should be made selectively so that essential services are maintained.
While these steps are necessary, it would have been better to have planned for them in the budget process last fall. Budgeting an increase in sales tax revenues of 9.4 percent over last year’s actual revenues should have been seen as unrealistic. Long term planning is a valid goal, but we must also put our financial house in order.
The key to improving the local economy is the business community. Both the business community and our citizens need to have a voice that speaks for them in our city government.
I would like to see a city employee designated as a customer service representative whose function would be to assist businesses who are seeking to expand or locate in Glenwood Springs and citizens seeking to improve their properties. This is a proven technique that businesses have used for years that can be adapted to government.
In addition, we need to examine all of our codes as they relate to development and expansion in Glenwood. These codes have grown organically to the point where they are unduly complicated. In the recent past, our city has lost opportunities to have Sears, Sonic, Best Buy, Kohls, and Total Merchant Services locate here.
We also need to provide the community a vehicle that will allow residents to communicate their needs to city staff and council.
We should collaborate with all of the entities that affect us, such as businesses and other government agencies including the Colorado Department of Transportation. Public-private partnerships will be a key to major projects such as the redevelopment of the confluence area and its integration with downtown.
Tourism is an important component of our economy. The composition of the Tourism Advisory Committee needs to be carefully examined to make sure that it consists of those who have the greatest expertise and experience in the marketing and sales of the tourism industry, in order to keep us competitive.
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