Sixteen former mayors of Durango are concerned about the proposed reorganization and restructuring of Durango’s boards and commissions. How each board or commission is continued, changed or eliminated on behalf of residents is neither a simple matter nor a city staff decision.
Durango has a long and rich tradition of boards and commissions that contribute to self-governance, citizen engagement, policy creation and advisory input. While local government efficiency, budget impacts, and utilization of city staff time are important, these considerations should be secondary to Durango residents’ engagement, contributions of volunteer expertise, and leverage of local talent and ideas, all of which align with the goals of Engaged & Collaborative Governance stated in the 2022 City of Durango Strategic Plan.
Durango has been a home-rule city since 1912 and the city charter has stood the test of time. Accordingly, the city’s boards and commissions reflect our city’s commitment to citizen engagement, self-governance and problem-solving, by residents and interested citizens. Boards and commissions are a critical part of our self-governance.
Who is driving the train in the reorganization and restructuring of boards and commissions? Did the City Council receive a petition from citizens or a recommendation from existing boards and commissions? Perhaps the Council should take a step back and rethink its position. If the Council is to consolidate, eliminate or create new boards and commissions, what are the primary objectives beyond “saving money,” “reducing staff time” or reducing citizen participation?
What is the rush? Why are we in a hurry to make such major changes in how we are self-governed as a home-rule city in Colorado? Are “too many boards or commissions” really a problem, or rather a virtue and example of active citizen engagement and involvement in Durango?
As former elected City of Durango officials who have served on Durango boards and commissions, we urge the City Council to take the necessary input from the citizens of Durango, and allow time for discussion and coordination with city staff to implement what is best for our city. Our boards and commissions are an important part of successful city government.
The City Council should seek more input from businesses, non-profits, interested citizens and community members. Simply put, decisions of this magnitude require citizen input and time for discussions after the new City Council is seated in April 2023. Making sweeping changes of reorganization and restructuring should not occur without citizen input and feedback from the boards and commissions.
Changes are driven primarily by administrative considerations, rather than local home rule governance policy and active citizen engagement is unacceptable.
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