June 9, 2005
Our Future Summit’s 5th meeting was a town hall meeting format with about 30 attendees each of whom spoke briefly. Instead of quoting each speaker, these notes will summarize themes. Introductory comments by elected leaders will be cited with attribution.
Introduction of OFS to new participants: OFS seeks to arrive at unified visions of the future, ways in which we can collaborate instead of compete among town and county governments, opportunities to bring diverse elements of the community to the same forums. Having focused on I-70 during the past few meetings, we return to an open forum.
Examples of collaboration across the county exist—a unified public school district, Summit Stage, county public health and the Community Care Clinic, CMC, the new hospital, among others—but many elements of our infrastructure are duplicated in each political jurisdiction. This is inefficient, costly, and sometimes results in confusion and sacrifice in quality of service. Where should we be seeking and stimulating collaboration, especially in light of demographic projections of doubling of population in 20 years?
State Rep. Gary Lindstrom: The tax structure varies between county and towns: the county is funded by property tax, the towns are funded by sales tax. This is the principal driver of the towns’ eagerness to pursue annexations and commercial development. Potential exists for consolidation, as we have seen beginning in the Silverthorne/Dillon Fire Districts. Still we have about 9 fire departments that could shrink to one or two. Potential also exists for consolidation in transportation, police, public works, recreation, library services, and other sectors. The people in this room can change things. What is missing is a common voice and determination. The CDOT coalition is a recent example of successful collaboration. Another is last year’s successful Smoke-Free Summit initiative. Perhaps we should strive for smaller (less), more efficient government.
County Commissioner Bob French: I’m a little more cynical about getting cooperative projects started. We need to take small steps, hear from all interested parties, and recognize that cooperative planning is tough. Don’t try to do everything at once.
· Taxes are too high, especially school taxes, presenting problem for people on limited income
· Summit County has a “sense of place”; people moved here to get away from sprawl. Big boxes eliminate small business. Growth can be like a cancer. We must maintain our open space/environment. (several participants made similar comments)
· Need to consolidate services. Some suggested “Town of Summit”. Distribution of residency is 60% in unincorporated county versus 40% in towns. Need to break down boundaries. Consider merger of all sanitation districts and move in small steps toward C/C of Summit concept. Towns must work together, share wisdom and expertise.
· Important to garner citizen participation .Biggest problem is the disconnect between the citizens and the town governments. Citizens take the government and the services provided for granted. This needs to be a non-partisan process.
· Is consolidation necessarily better? Have we identified the problem? Not all small business can be saved. We can’t be isolated from the rest of the world.
· Progressive annexation by towns may diminish county tax revenue.
· We must acknowledge that tourist dollars make a substantial contribution to our budgets.
· We need to elect the right people in order to plan for future inevitable expansion, preserve open space, control development and the selfish interest of towns.
· Back-country zoning with transfer of development rights has been useful.
· Sprawl is not inevitable if we can plan ahead. But lacking that, we will get erratic commercial development of the Fishhook and other parcels.
· Where we have common problems (e.g. beetle kill) we should work together. Other communities have collaborated (Overland Park, Ks is an example) and could serve as models.
· With growth, where will people live?
· OFS should make efforts to:
o Educate ourselves with outside speakers.
o Know the facts, options, costs, etc. thus clarifying our process.
o Determine if C/C of Summit may compound the problem.
o Express the community’s common values that attract us and second homeowners and tourists.
o Be a source of information to others.
o Help various towns with their hot button issues (e.g. Frisco and 9.4 acre parcel, Dillon and Fishhook).
o Research through a small committee process to develop strategic planning and to cost justify consolidation in various sectors..