The future of the city’s Utilities Commission as a board is now secure, but work remains to clarify its mission.
“We want to make sure the underlying issues are resolved,” Mayor Dean Brookie said.
The Durango City Council and the Utilities Commission decided over lunch Tuesday that the commission should continue with its three current members until both panels review the document that established the commission and come up with a list of future topics for discussion.
The Utilities Commission’s purpose was called into question last week by commission members and Councilor Dick White, liaison to the board.
A set direction and list of agenda items will help give “everyone a sense of value and purpose,” Brookie said.
It could also help the City Council know what expertise to look for when recruiting new members to the board later this year, the group decided.
The boards will meet again in a month to six weeks to talk about the topics the commission could advise the council on and whether the resolution that established the group needs to be revised.
The Utilities Commission’s relationship with city leaders became tense in the last year because some commission members felt the city had not fully explored options for moving the sewage-treatment plant out of Santa Rita Park.
A few city councilors encouraged commissioners to support them after decisions have been made, even if they personally disagreed.
“Once we make that decision, we have to have that united front,” Councilor Christina Rinderle said.
While the conflict over the sewer plant was mentioned, the two boards focused on how the Utilities Commission could contribute in the future.
Studying the state’s new water plan and how it could impact the city could be one potential project, said Bob Wolff, former utilities commissioner.
Commissioner Dick Reitz suggested the commission continue reviewing plans for big projects such as the potential water-treatment plant at Lake Nighthorse and the sewer plant in Santa Rita Park to provide an outside perspective.
“When you’re in a project team, you gravitate into group think,” he said.
The commission might also provide feedback on policies for drought years and how new state and federal regulations might impact the city.
“It needs to be much more policy-oriented,” said Chairman John Ballew about the future of the Utilities Commission.