~ by Val Carr ~
Our intention is that this is an introductory and recurring column on the workings of your Woodland Park City government from the perspective of one of your elected representatives and the Mayor Pro Tem.
Many citizens privately query their elected representatives (City Councilmembers) with individual areas of concern that may have universal interest. This is prime reason to take some of these answers to this public media forum. This will also allow you to learn about your elected representatives, their perspectives, and practice of due diligence in representing you, their bosses.
First the basics: The citizens of the home rule municipality we call Woodland Park elect their representatives every two years on even numbered years. Every two years we elect a Mayor and three other Council members, because Council terms are staggered. We have term limits of eight consecutive years for Council/Mayor. The Mayor’s elected term is a possible four terms of two years each, and Council terms are potentially elected for two 4 year terms each. There are a maximum of seven (7) City Council members seated. The Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem have titles, but have equal voting power as each of the other Council members. The Mayor has some additional obligations of a ceremonial nature and the main extra duty of presiding over Council meetings and some extra City representations. The Mayor Pro Tem is basically the substitute Mayor when the Mayor is unavailable for a meeting or ceremony, and takes over the mayoral duties, such as running Council meetings in that instance.
The Mayoral function is a full-time job to dedicate the required time for all the duties for the benefit of the citizens and the City. Each Council member’s obligation in time to this duty is anywhere from 10-20 hours a week on average if they honor their obligation of oversight and due diligence to the issues of the citizens fully. Some do more hours. We will examine these duties in detail in a coming column.
The City Council oversees and hires a few different crucial City employees: the City Attorney, the Municipal Court Judge, and the City Manager. These people report to the City Council, but take on their daily duties independent of micro-management by the Council. The City Manager (CM) is basically the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), in private sector equivalency terms, and executes the administration of the vision and policies directed by the Council. The City Manager and about 100+ staff reporting to him/her via department directors do the daily tasks of keeping the many public services up and running. The City has a police department, but does not manage or fund the fire or ambulance services that are also critical to public safety.
The City Council has budgetary oversight for the various monies that are generated by citizens and private sector businesses which come into the revenues of the City via taxes, fees, grants, and donations. The allocation of expenditures of these citizen monies for the citizens’ benefit is a critical function of the City Council. Once an annual budget has been considered and passed by at least four of the seven Councilmembers, then it is administered by the City Manager during the budget year. The City Council also may modify the budget at any time during the budget year when circumstances change or oversight demands modification.
In broad terms, the Woodland Park administration, managed by the City Manager, works for the City Council. The City Council works for the citizens of Woodland Park who elected them. You, the citizens, are the boss! Help us by being intellectually engaged with your City Council and our local issues.
The Council meets twice monthly on every first and third Thursday at City Hall at 7 PM. Any citizen may speak during the “Public Comments On Items Not On The Agenda” portion of the meeting by signing up on a login sheet at the back counter, before each meeting starts. On the city web site (www.city-woodlandpark.org), links to City live streams of the Council meetings and also to past meetings on Youtube ®, may be found.
It is also our intention that you, the citizens we serve, send your City Council and governance questions into us for subjects we may answer in subsequent columns under this heading. Please submit questions of a general public interest nature to email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions will be considered and judged for public interest in this media forum, or in a future publication.
Val Carr currently serves on the Woodland Park City Council as Mayor Pro Tem, and additionally on the Boards of Mountain Arts Council, and Ute Trail Stampede Rodeo, among others. He retired from his successful communications software engineering firm and has served in public service volunteer positions with many non-profits in Colorado and California for 25+ years.