By Rick Langenberg:
The town of Green Mountain Falls, which experienced a near walkout of its entire employee force following the spring election, is slowly rebuilding its ranks.
But at the same time, the town is heavily relying on its own elected trustees to do much of the work, and plans to continue this spirit of volunteerism. However, some concerns have been raised regarding the quality of road maintenance, the financial state of the town and basic nuts and bolts operations.
Last week, the trustees heard a detailed proposal by Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Stevens, calling for the formation of a variety of advisory committees regarding how the town should operate and deal with short and long-term goals. The proposed volunteer committees, which would be mostly filled by local citizens, would handle such decision assignments as the refurbishing of the new town hall, parks, recreation and pool matters, municipal governing policies, trails work, budget and finance challenges and a town governing structure.
According to Stevens’ plan, the committees would help the board with its growing work load and give advice on key issues facing Green Mountain Falls. “Look at what we have ahead of us,” said Stevens, near the close of another marathon town council meeting on June 17. “We would seek advice on these matters.”
Since a largely new board assumed office, it has made it clear that it plans to deviate from the status quo ways of running the small Ute Pass burg. Some of the more important subjects these groups must grapple with deal with the familiar question of considering a town manager form of government and restructuring its work force; updating certain ordinances, such as noise and nuisance law to make them more business-friendly; prioritizing funding challenges with limited resources and trying to generate more grants; an expanding the trails committee to deal with the probable access to Dewey Mountain.
Attorney Matt Krobb greeted the concept of advisory committees favorably, but cautioned the board not to fill each of these groups with too many trustees due to open meeting requirements. He also noted that filling this many committees could present a challenge. However, he lauded the idea of budget and finance group to help trustee Michael Butts, the city’s designated treasurer. He said Butts has been a big asset to the city attorney’s office, but contended that he needs some assistance.
More details will be presented regarding these groups and the focus of their work. But the spirit of volunteerism emerged as a key theme last week. At the outset of the meeting, Mayor Lorrie Worthey publicly thanked all of the trustees for their work, along with Marshal Tim Bradley and Michael Lohman of the Triangle Chamber of Commerce, who is charge of live streaming meetings. Worthey noted that all of the trustees have been forced to assume a variety of extra duties. In fact, the mayor and trustees and other volunteers have found themselves cutting grass, doing park maintenance, trying to reopen the pool, running graders, manning the city hall and making many calls for assistance.
The trustees, though, have maintained that help is on the way. Trustee Dave Cook said a new public works manager should be hired shortly. In addition, the town has received a number of applicants for its city clerk and deputy clerk job. Meanwhile, the city is getting help from temporary employees from Woodland Park and Calhan.
Still, the operations of the town are much different than past years without any full-time city hall workers. Trustee Barbara Gardiner volunteered to pick up the slack by having all phone calls forwarded to her during times that the clerk’s office didn’t have any help. She said she could arrange to meet any citizen who needed assistance within a very short time.
The board liked this idea and gave Gardiner the okay to pursue this arrangement with the town’s telephone provider.
Changes in question
However, not everyone is thrilled with the changes. Mac Pitrone, a former veteran trustee and long-time resident, raised a slew of questions regarding the operations of the town during last week’s public comment session. He stressed that most residents are completely dissatisfied with the quality of road maintenance in Green Mountain Falls. “Dry grading does not work on gravel roads (in a mountain community like this),” said Pitrone, who stated that he wasn’t criticizing the effort made by El Paso County. But he said their staff just didn’t have the expertise and local knowledge to do the job. Pitrone and other former trustees have heavily criticized plans to contract this road maintenance work out to El Paso County. The current state of GMF’s steep, uneven and rough gravel road system has been a familiar gripe since the town lost its entire public works and maintenance crew. Many roads are filled with ruts and large stones and haven’t experienced the same level of care as what occurred during the previous administration, according to critics.
In addition, Pitrone wanted a full report on the status of seven resolutions passed by the board at their inaugural meeting, despite concerns voiced by the city attorney. These dealt with a litany of new policy decisions, such as stripping the former clerk of her role as treasurer, rehiring the formal marshal, nixing the concept of a town manager and reasserting the authority of the board of trustees.
He also wanted complete detail on Bradley’s contract. Pitrone asked that answers to these questions be made in a public meeting.