Much has been said and written about my November letter to City Council. In that letter, intended for their eyes only (but quickly went “viral”, as they say), I shared my thoughts about looking at the city’s budget situation in a different way.
My intention was more to inspire a new way of looking at government, much the way all organizations (private and public) and families must do now given the times, as it was to offer up some specific ideas on operating more efficiently and reducing costs. I will be the first to admit that comparing the operations of the resort hotel business are not the same as running a government – yet there are similarities with the resort business as well as all businesses.
I think the city does a fine job overall with their service delivery — police and fire, in particular, are exceptional — while working under some pretty difficult circumstances. How do you maintain or even improve the delivery of city services within a cost structure the taxpayers will support? I advanced some thoughts on this; some that may have footing and some that may not. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but it seems that an honest and sincere look at how the city operates strategically, organizationally and financially can better provide a long term solution versus annual random budget cutting.
So what’s happening? Together with our District 2 Councilman Sean Paige and local businessman Chuck Fowler, we have formed The City Committee, which will systematically study the business policies and operations of municipal government and Colorado Springs Utilities. Chuck will serve as chairman of the group and Sean will coordinate and manage the Committee’s relationship with City Council and city staff. I will serve as a member of the Committee and help and support Sean and Chuck and other members in any way that I can. We will ask a selection of local business people to join us as we research, analyze, discuss and hopefully offer up some recommendations to City Council for their deliberation and possible action. I feel that it is important for citizens and community leaders to understand that participants in this effort will be recruited for their expertise and creativity in their business specialties — be that finance, personnel, marketing, contracting, public relations, technology, etc. – tasks that also make up the daily routines of our civic administrators. The work of this Committee cannot be successful without the support and conviction of the city administration, and I truly appreciate the Mayor’s and Council’s pledge to cooperate with us.
When the economic climate becomes difficult, some organizations do better than others. By tapping the entrepreneurial survival instincts of those who run these organizations, my thought is we can help our city managers versus hurling criticism from the sidelines. Please know that I have the greatest respect for the people in government and the work that they do. Operating in this climate cannot be much fun for them either.
We are a private committee and not relying on taxpayer funding. Nonetheless, we believe our work is public in nature and we will organize a website to publish our pursuits and findings. All Colorado Springs citizens are encouraged to share their own ideas and comments at the site. Please look for a press announcement soon for the launch of the website.
My letter was not intended to be a criticism of the Council or city government; it was intended to be constructive and, in that vein, I hope it has opened a window of opportunity and that good can come from it.
- Steve Bartolin