Carbondale mulls leaving TRIDENT
Carbondale officials this week directed the town’s police department to look at pulling out of the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team. The directive was just one item in a long list of potential new policies the town’s Board of Trustees is thinking about. New Town Manager Tom Baker said there has been no decision on whether to exit TRIDENT, but the aggressive undercover drug enforcement team could end up being out of sync with the town’s emerging philosophy of community policing. According to a memo sent to members of the town board: “Staff will research and evaluate alternative approaches to TRIDENT. It is our desire to find and use programs and techniques to replace the TRIDENT model.”The emerging governance philosophy to which Baker referred will apply not only to the police department, but to all departments within the town. A set of core skills will be required training for all of the town’s employees. Those skills include:• Networking• Facilitation• Conflict resolution/mediation• Spanish • Community descriptions/social ecology• Problem solving/critical thinking• Strategy formation and implementation• Issue identification and management”All departments will train to some level on these skills,” Baker said. Aside from looking at the police department, trustees also focused on the town’s planning department. Baker said that department is due for a Comprehensive Plan update. “What the trustees decided to do is site-specific planning,” Baker said. The town’s planning staff was directed to look at the parcel of land in the north part of town along Highway 133, which could eventually be the site of a shopping center; the old North Face property; the town’s southern entrance; the Forest Service office property (the Forest Service has indicated that office may be closing); and other areas in town with development potential. “If we could do those things within the next two years, then we could update the Comprehensive Plan,” Baker said. Budget talksThe coming year’s revenue projections received close scrutiny. “It is easy to understand how inflated revenue projections can create chaos in an organization – a spending freeze is imposed in the third quarter and carries through the remainder of the year. Everyone then overreacts for the next budget cycle and the result is the town’s agenda, set by the (Board of Trustees), is disrupted for 18 to 24 months,” staff members wrote in a memorandum. “What is not so easy to grasp is how an inappropriately conservative revenue projection hampers the BOT’s ability to move forward on the town’s agenda.”Such a conservative projection can cause the board to ax needed town projects and cause arguments on which items the town should fund, the memo said. When setting the 2004 town budget, the board did the latter of the two outlined budget projection missteps. The board estimated that Carbondale would have zero sales-tax revenue growth. Instead, the town has seen an 8 percent increase in revenue through August. To avoid too conservative an estimate for the 2005 budget, the board will base the budget on a 4 percent increase. Baker also said the town’s general fund reserve is in great shape. The town has more than $2 million in reserve; enough to run the town – which has an annual operating budget just in excess of $4 million – for more than six months. “Sometimes you have problems if there’s too little (in reserve), but there’s also problems if you have too much,” Baker said. Examples of the latter include infrastructure projects that don’t get done, and a lack of worker pay raises. That led Baker to another item the board discussed: employee pay raises. “They agreed we should target a 2 percent cost of living increase and a 1 percent merit increase,” he said. All employees in town would receive the 2 percent raise, while only those who have shown “appropriate performance would receive the additional 1 percent. The Board of Trustees will address the town’s other departments at future meetings, Baker said.Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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