The firefighters and support teams protecting Durango are our heroes. I see signs at businesses and placards in windows, and I hear the applause in the voices of residents in our community for these special folks.
Extreme drought conditions with the fire have brought out the best in family and friends of the Southwest.
Durango implemented water and fire restrictions. City Council chose to close city-owned open space so as not to burden our local fire department with any more potential problems for their thinly stretched resources. Trails in the city are now open again.
This is what I know about Durango. Durango is resilient. Daddy told me in 1974 that I would have to be tough to live in the West. And he was right! Blizzards, power outages, the Missionary Ridge Fire and the Gold King Mine spill are examples of when our residents came together to help each other.
City Council will be facing more challenges if the sales tax declines because of a loss of tourism dollars in our local economy. You can hear me say at most council meetings, “shop locally.”
If you buy online, don’t expect the library to open on Sunday. If you shop in another town, don’t expect the police department to hire more officers or the street department to fix more streets.
The reality for the council is that sales tax drives the general fund, which pays for streets, library, storm drains, personnel and police and fire protection.
The City Engagement Team has sought out community participation for months. The team attended 45-plus meetings and received more than 4,000 comments about city services in Durango and how to pay for them with declining revenues. Durango does not have a spending problem; Durango has a revenue problem that many municipalities are facing in Colorado. City government budgets must balance. That means projects are shelved when the revenues are down. As mayor, the roller-coaster ride of sales tax takes my breath away.
The small businesses of Durango are the backbone of our hometown. I appreciate the local owners and how hard they work to make a living, pay bills, and give back to this sweet place we call home.
Gov. John Hickenlooper loves Durango and has helped to spread the word to come here. Everyone can be an advocate on social media, encouraging vacations in Durango.
In these difficult times, the theme I heard is how neighbors were helping each other. Folks donated to firefighters, to displaced evacuees and to Durango Food Bank.
People were offering places to stay to strangers who had been evacuated.
As mayor, I am so proud of all of our hometown heroes.
Sweetie Marbury is mayor of Durango, a position rotating among members of City Council. Reach her at email@example.com.