In Green Mountain Falls we have a temporary town manager/clerk who was hired to help move the town forward. I know that for a lot of folks it seems that it is a waste of time or money to have a town manager/clerk.
Here are some ideas about that: In the not-so-distant past we had a very competent clerk who in fact really functioned as a manager/clerk. She knew the codes and ordinances backwards and forwards, she was a crucial, intelligent voice for the Board when it came to how the town functions, human resources, Colorado Revised Statutes, budgets and so forth. But times change and that person retired. A new clerk was hired who tried her best, but did not have any municipal government experience. It was a mistake.
It became apparent to many people in the town including the board at that time, that a town manager/clerk would be an asset to the town and would help the residents, the board(s), the committee(s) and the employees. Having a full-time, professional employee in-house that can answer questions for the public, supervise employees, move projects ahead, apply for grants interface with other professionals and other governments on a daily basis has become not only a bonus, but a necessity. Citizens need and want answers every day, not just every two weeks when the Board meets. The problem was how would to pay for a person who could handle all those duties.
The Department of Local Affairs stepped in with a grant in 2016 to put a temporary person in place to see if this is what would be really good for the town. In the three months we have had a temporary manager/clerk, we have seen a very much streamlined approach to government. Our temporary m/c has been a very strong employee in hiring other employees, preparing the budgets, working with other governments, etc. It has become very clear over the last three years that when there is no professional in place, the town falters. Many critical voices have been heard that were concerned about hiring mistakes that were made in the past and thousands of dollars that were paid out trying to solve the mistakes. The Town M/C has come in to take care of that — saving the Town thousands of future dollars.
Currently, voices are heard saying that the Trustee Liaison system has worked since the late 1800’s. Why doesn’t it continue to work? For one thing, the Trustees and mayor are subject to change every two years. People come and go that have a wide variety of skill sets. Some people are very knowledgeable about human resource practices, ordinances, codes, etc. Some people definitely are NOT. Some people are elected that have little professional background, or their background is in something very different than running a town. And the Town, as we have seen in the past, gets in trouble when someone in a position of authority makes a mis-step. Let’s also put aside the thought that things must stay the same forever. What else has changed since the 1800s? Besides the increase in lawsuits, all sorts of rules have changed regarding towns, employees and people in general. And good things have happened with so many of these new rules. In very real terms, the laws have changed since 1890 — women have gotten the right to vote and hold office even! And perhaps it’s time we re-evaluate our situation and move forward.
The representative from DOLA came to the last board meeting when it was voted that the Town would pursue a full-time Manager/Clerk. He related a story to all that Victor recently moved from a Trustee Liaison system to a Town Manager system. Real progress is being made in Victor as their Board moves forward with more opportunities and the day-to-day management of the employees, etc. is being taken care of by a professional.
Is this change scary? YES! All change is scary. Is it carved into stone? NO! Anything can be changed. Has the Board acted in haste? NO! This question has been explored by three Boards now and the current board has pursued (and WON) grant opportunities to help with the finances of the transition. Will budgets need to be revised in the future? YES! It is widely acknowledged that our former Clerk was underpaid. We need to step up and do what is right for the Town and for the Town’s future. This move to a Clerk/Manager position was recommended to the town by the town’s insurance (CIRSA) by the Colorado Municipal League and the Department of Local Affairs. It is the right move and it has become the right time. People should question, but should not be afraid.