In our polarized nation, people are angry and frustrated; they feel disrespected and ignored. In contrast, our local city government is non-partisan, with our collective mission and council goals specifically outlined to serve the community.
We may disagree at times and have our own personal beliefs, but on a local level, we put partisan politics aside and work together.
This week, Durango City Council met with city staff to sort through the current list of community projects and issues. The list, with over 30 items, is extensive to say the least. This, coupled with less than three months on the horizon in this council term, created the need to establish an “action priority matrix” to make the most of the items before us, taking into account city staff capacity, work schedules and council availability.
An action priority matrix is a simple diagramming technique that helps one choose which activities to prioritize based on four quadrants ranking “impact” and “effort” to make the most of time and opportunities (ranking high impact/high effort to low impact/low effort).
In working through the matrix, many of the items fell into the high impact/high effort category. These major projects include:
Completion of our 2017 Comprehensive Plan.Transit funding: With further cuts expected on the federal level in coming years, the city will need to make decisions on how to maintain a transit system that students, seniors and many people in our workforce depend upon.Housing program plan: Affordable and attainable housing is a top priority in our city and many throughout the nation.Homelessness: a complex issue, deserving of everyone’s attention.Accessory dwelling units: Now legal in three established neighborhoods in town; others would like to see this option available, which provides additional housing opportunities as well as offsetting mortgage costs.Airport terminal and future governance: With the loss of the ballot initiative for a new terminal, the county and city will continue to work together to explore ways to support this major economic engine.Fire station and fire impact fees: Stay tuned for infrastructure needs.La Posta Road area plan and Airpark Mesa future development: This area hosts opportunities for business and housing developments.Durango districts initiative: Neighborhood character and planning is critical as we envision future redevelopments throughout areas of the city, such as North Main and Camino del Rio.TRIP 2040 transportation: It is predicted by state demographers that we will have an additional 16,000 residents, thus a need to plan accordingly and take into account multi-modal opportunities as well as the future of autonomous vehicles.Ridges Basin water treatment plant: The city now owns water rights in Lake Nighthorse, securing our interests for generations to come, but a water treatment plant will be necessary in order to utilize this precious resource, especially in instances where contamination or forest fire may render our current sources unavailable.Other items were placed into the high impact/low effort quadrant that we hope to be “quick wins,” like enhancing downtown lighting to make it safer and more inviting, and the future redesign of Santa Rita Park to hopefully incorporate basketball and volleyball courts after the odorless and more aesthetically-pleasing waste water treatment plant is completed.
Lower effort items that we have already begun to work on include items like e-bikes, organic parks, Animas River monitoring and others.
All of the items noted, in addition to many more on the horizon, are important to Durango.
Your participation is critical to help shape Durango as we balance our needs with time and budgets.
Ideally in communities, property taxes should cover the costs of basic and essential city services – providing police officers, plowing streets, hauling trash, etc – while local sales tax should provide the enhancements such as parks, playgrounds and trails.
Because our county property taxes are among the lowest not only in the state, but also in the nation, we rely on city sales tax for the lion’s share of our general fund budget. What this means is that we do a lot with little ... so one way to help is to please shop locally!
Lastly, if you are compelled to step up your civic engagement, you have an opportunity now to contact the clerk’s office and run for city council in this April’s election.
Thanks for your participation in the process.
Christina Rinderle is the mayor of Durango, a position rotating among members of the city council. She will serve as mayor until April 2017, when she will be succeeded by now Mayor Pro Tem Dick White. Reach her at ChristinaRinderle@DurangoGov.org.