Critical to success: ‘Heavy’ public involvement
Wholesale transparency and a desire for heavy public involvement were two goals embraced by a seven-person study committee tasked with the creation of Grand County’s next form of government when members held their inaugural meeting Friday.
Local attorney and committee member Steven Stocks was elected chair and Marcy Till the secretary – though someone assigned to the county administrator’s office will take meeting minutes.
Bob Greenberg, the vice chair of the Grand County Democratic Party, asked that whomever was nominated to chair the committee do so as an “honest broker,” meaning that he or she would have the right to “speak up and have strong opinions,” but who would not put their “finger on the scale,” so to speak, when it came to placing items on agendas and so forth.
Greenberg also said there was significant talent and experience on the committee, which he said faces “an enormous challenge.”
Other members include Jeramy Day, chair of the Grand County Republican Party; Walt Dabney, Judy Carmichael and Cricket Green. The committee was not able to address a number of items on its agenda since Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan had a conflict and was unable to attend the meeting to answer legal questions or offer guidance.
“We want the county attorney to be intimately involved,” said Dabney.
The committee has until March 8, 2020 to settle on a form of government, which voters must approve no later than Dec. 31, 2020.
Every member agreed the public would have to play a major role in the process, not only to be inclusive and open, but also to help draft a proposed new form of government that would be palatable to a majority of the electorate.
Till said an informed public was critical, and Day said he is “all about an engaged community.”
Greenberg earned a laugh following a discussion of whether the committee should provide routine progress reports to the Grand County Council, which currently operates under a form of government that will cease to exist once the new form is approved and enacted. “I’m not uncomfortable talking with someone about their funeral,” he said.
In the end, it was decided Stocks or his designee will provide the reports in person. The committee will next meet in council chambers at noon on Friday, March 15.
While there is much work to do and as Greenberg noted, a virtually countless number of permutations that could be debated, there are only four options from which to choose:
- County Commission: This commission would hold both executive and legislative powers. It would have three members who are elected at large with staggered four-year terms.
- Expanded County Commission: In this form, the county commission also has the authority to manage the county, make laws, set taxes, budgets and fees. There would be five to seven commissioners, elected at-large who serve staggered four-year terms.
- Elected executive/council: This form has an executive or mayor who has authority over the executive brand of government, including veto power over council legislation. The number of members, length of terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district would have to be decided.
- Council/Manager: A person would be appointed county manager. She or he would serve at the pleasure of the council. They would run the executive branch while a council would handle legislation. As in the elected executive/council form, the number of members, length of terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district would have to be decided.