Town Board Retreat: December 17, 20187 min read
Tonight’s Town Board Retreat had great discussion on a number of topics. I am really excited about some of the potential changes we are considering to help our Town run more efficiently, and strengthen the lines of communication with citizens! If you’d like to watch this update in video form, scroll to the end of the post.
Disclaimer: While I do my best to represent an honest and accurate portrayal of meetings and events, the following should be considered an editorial that represents one person’s interpretation of the meetings. For the most unbiased information, I would encourage residents to watch the meeting video itself and draw their own conclusions. EngagedCitizens.us is a fantastic free tool created by one of our own residents, which includes a repository of agendas, documents, and meeting videos, and allows you to search within a video to jump to critical parts. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!
First, the Board discussed our 2019 Goals. Each of us discussed our top priorities, and we had a lot of agreement, with common topics including economic development, updating the 2012 comprehensive plan, acquiring Open Space (especially the Century Link property on 128), indoor civic space, and Home Rule.
Next, we discussed committee meeting notices and agreed to begin sending weekly eBlast notifications to citizens of upcoming meetings and agendas. Today, this information can be found on the Town website, but it’s inconsistent.
I was excited about the next topic: I suggested that we begin publishing emails sent to the Board, following the lead of Louisville and Boulder, so that citizens have more visibility into hot topics. We had some back and forth about whether citizens would be comfortable having their emails published or if there was an expectation of privacy. I’d like to point out that all emails sent to government officials are public domain (though you do have to jump through hoops to file a Colorado Open Records Act request to get access to these emails), so we really aren’t changing anything except how easy it is for people to see what you write to the Board. In general, my rule is that if you don’t stand behind it, you shouldn’t put it in writing!
We briefly discussed First Fridays, and the possibility of shifting some of these Friday morning breakfast meetings to another day / time to try to reach different demographics. Ultimately, we decided we’d leave the current meetings alone, but that any Trustee could schedule a similarly open meeting series at a different day and time. I LOVE these meetings, which are how I first got involved in the Town, and would certainly be open to hosting more. Perhaps a weekend morning walk & talk? Let me know what you might be interested in and perhaps we can make it happen.
Another topic I was very excited to discuss is the Engaged Citizens tool, developed by resident Googler Sean Maday. I got to meet with Sean over the summer to discuss his portal, which provides easy searchable access to all the Town videos, meeting minutes, and documents going back through 2009, and I’ve been really excited about it ever since. Sean uses machine learning to transcribe all the meeting videos, and you can then search the video by keyword and jump to that specific section of the video to watch what happened. It’s pretty awesome! The Board loved it as well, and while it won’t be a Town-sponsored tool, we will be encouraging residents to use it as another way to more easily stay informed. You can check it out at engagedcitizens.us.
The Engaged Citizens discussion led us into discussing the new Town Reddit and its potential as a resource for information to be logged permanently, like Wikipedia. If you’re watching this, please go to reddit.com/r/superiorcolorado and subscribe to the sub-Reddit! And if you don’t know how to use Reddit, let me know if you might be interested in a quick video tutorial from me, including how to subscribe by email to new threads that are created. I have used Reddit for a long time and think of it as pretty user friendly, but I’m happy to demo it for those who are new to the tool.
On the topic of economic development, the Board discussed how we want to spend our $150,000 2019 budget for this item, and debated hiring a consultant vs a full-time staff member, then redirected our focus to the tactics we’d like them to use and goals we’d like to achieve. In our quest to make Superior more business-friendly, we ultimately decided we’d like to see a basic current state / future state / gap analysis of where we are today, where we want to go, and what we need to do to get there – including a long-term roadmap. We definitely need to work closely with the Superior Chamber of Commerce on this, and with the Chamber hiring a new executive director, 2019 is going to be a big year for economic development.
In the cost sharing agreement with Ranch Capital for the Town Center, Ranch Capital agreed to provide $10 million for civic space; however, this has not yet had a development plan brought forward. Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis noted that this civic space is a priority for him in 2019, and the rest of the Board agreed.
We moved on to some discussion of the Transportation and Safety Committee, which is different from the other Town committees in that it is led by Trustees rather than citizens, and meets quarterly rather than monthly. Our Town’s Director of Public Works and Utilities was not in attendance to weigh in, so a decision won’t be made without his input, but the Board would like to move this meeting to at least every other month. However, the Board was split on having this committee run by citizens or Trustees, and ultimately decided to leave the composition as is.
Speaking of committees, we next discussed allowing Trustee liaisons to attend meetings by phone, rather than in person. Trustee Ken Lish brought up potentially having committee members themselves participate by phone. This way, those who are passionate about a committee but who can’t get to Town Hall in person for meetings can still contribute their talents. I am a huge proponent of this idea, and also brought up that I would like to see us follow Boulder’s lead in allowing public comment at all meetings by phone. On this topic, the Board was very divided.
What are your thoughts on allowing members of the public to call in with public comment for meetings? Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis and I were strong supporters of this as a way to allow more people to speak up, but the rest of our colleagues were not in favor. It was suggested by Trustee Kevin Ryan that I encourage members of the community to reach out to the Board with your thoughts – please email us at email@example.com.
Finally, the Board discussed the pros and cons of becoming a Home Rule municipality. Going Home Rule allows us as a town to enact specific rules and regulations that are not in place statewide. Without Home Rule, Superior can only exercise powers specifically authorized by the State Constitution; with Home Rule, our municipality would only be limited by the Constitution and state statutes. Opinions on going Home Rule were divided, and we tabled the topic for a future meeting after we can get more input from Town Attorney Kendra Carberry.
With that, I’d like to wish all of you very happy holidays! Our next Town Board Meeting won’t be until Monday January 14th. In the meantime, this Sunday afternoon I am hosting a holiday cookie exchange at my home. As there will be more than two Town Trustees in attendance, my private party is being noticed publicly (ah, the joys of being an elected official), but I don’t anticipate we’ll actually discuss Town business. Nevertheless, I think the more the merrier – so if you’d like to bake some cookies and chat with me and other neighbors, I’d love to have you join – you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details, or with any other comments or questions.
Thanks for reading, and have a great night 🙂