Wendy Koenig

By: Wendy Koenig, Mayor Estes Park

Think about the Estes Park government as a jigsaw puzzle in which every role and function of the town is a puzzle piece that has a specific place. That when in its particular place each piece snaps with other pieces to form a whole. Thus, unraveling the puzzle.

Mayor Koenig at Rock Cut Brewery

The jigsaw that’s our town’s government has many pieces. Some of them reflect the viewpoints of stakeholders. Other pieces are the laws, codes and processes that guide the town and state. Many are the assorted needs, preferences and priorities of the townspeople. Assembling the pieces and unraveling the puzzle, in ways that address the common good are two of the things I most enjoy doing as mayor.

Here’s where the puzzle solving stands. Currently, the Town Board, with input from stakeholders, is finalizing the town’s 2021 strategic plan. The plan is like the border of the jigsaw. Within the border there’s only room for puzzle pieces that support the needs of the people who live, work and visit here. The strategic plan establishes goals and priorities. It guides the heads and team members of the various town departments (e. g. clerk, police) as they draft action plans for the work they propose doing. Each proposal contains a rationale, timeline and cost estimate. Later this year, the Town Board will consider the proposal of each department as it finalizes the 2021 budget.

Sometimes, meeting a particular need of the townspeople involves doing work over a several year period. That’s why the jigsaw for this year inevitably has a few critical pieces for commitments made by prior boards, and projects set forth in previous strategic plans and budgets. Periodic review and monitoring of the projects these pieces represent ensures their timely and successful completion.

Every jigsaw has a piece or two that presents a unique challenge for puzzle solvers. This year, it is COVID-19. In order for everything to snap in place, we must aggressively address the unanticipated costs of combating the virus. This involves diligently looking at each and every part of the jigsaw. Resizing some pieces. Postponing a few.

During the remainder of September, staff are working with the Town Administrator. Collectively they'll draft a budget that he’ll present to the Town Board at a study session in October. After consideration of the administrator’s draft budget, the board will present its budget to the townspeople and conduct hearings in November. With a vote on adoption of the budget in December and its implementation starting January 1, 2021.

During the October study sessions, trustees will consider details of the budget as they relate to the strategic plan. When necessary, trustees will direct clarifying questions to department heads. And should answers show proposed work not aligning with the strategic plan, then recommending changes so it does align.

I encourage you to participate in the puzzle solving by virtually attending meetings and study sessions and conveying your thoughts via email (trustees@estes.org), letters or official comment.

When each of us contributes the critical pieces of the puzzle snap in place to help Estes Park remain a terrific place to grow.

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