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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Arm Wrestling with the Town Administrator

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Mayor arm wrestling Town Administrator Alisha Reis
Running the Town is serious business. Fortunately, I don't have to bear all of that burden. Nederland is a statutory town with a 'weak mayor' model. (The inherent conundrum of elected officials explained here)

This means that our citizens elect a mayor and trustees primarily to do three things: 1. Set policy, 2. Approve the budget, and 3. Hire a Town Administrator to make it happen. In 2010, we went through a detailed six month process to hire Alisha Reis as our Town Administrator. Each year in November, we provide an evaluation, or performance appraisal, of her work over the past year. (see more details at the bottom of this article.)

As an organization, the Town itself, would be among the largest employers in the Peak to Peak region. (think Eldora, the School District, B&F, Ace Hardware) The Town provides decent jobs and our employees work to maintain our basic infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Roads, Transportation, Police, Public Safety, Building & Zoning, Municipal Court, even the Community Center and Visitor Center.) The Town has a "shop local" preference for its own purchases, and administers the NedWEB Shop Local incentive program. Town operations provide the foundation of our local economy.

The Board of Trustees, which is elected to represent the will of the people, naturally wants to push the envelope and accomplish more goals for our citizens. Sure, we want to support all the non-profit organizations, and volunteers that work so hard to make our community the great place that it is. – Sustainability, protecting the environment, providing recreation opportunities, recycling, zero waste, composting, honoring veterans, events, parades, low income housing, basic human services, forest health, arts, cultureclimate change, basic medical facilities, trails, pedestrian transportation, the EcoPass, the dark sky initiative, historic preservation, parks, reducing noise pollution, local currency, economic development, youth engagement, renewable energy, educational programs, aging services. The list goes on. Many perspectives were included in Envision 2020.

Figuratively, We Arm Wrestle Over It.

It is Alisha's responsibility to throw red flags, to remind us that we have limited resources, and that we can't afford to do everything we want, right now. We've hired her to do this. It is part of the natural check and balance system. The Board of Trustees discusses all of our goals and priorities through a series of budget workshops and budget hearings from August through December. 

On December 3rd, the Board of Trustees will review the final version of the 2014 Budget at our regular board meeting. As always, it is open to the public.

The Town Administrator Performance Evaluation:

On November 12th, the Board of Trustees conducted the evaluation of Alisha's performance over the past year. The BOT recognized that in many respects, this review also reflects the efforts of the town in general. I asked 53 individuals to complete the evaluation; 7 Board of Trustees members, 9 Town Staff  & direct reports, and 37 Town Advisory Board members, along with Alisha's Self Evaluation.

I compiled eight pages of comments, and I continue to be impressed with the feedback we receive from our Advisory Boards. Here are some of the responses:
"Alisha is not one to 'hit a road block' – she seeks out creative solutions to all areas within the limits of her budget. She is confident and authoritative without being condescending or judgmental even when others around her are." 
"Alisha has been proactive and energetic in her support of the town's efforts to do fire mitigation. She participated in several projects and hosted a Saws & Slaws event in her neighborhood. She 'put her sweat equity where her mouth was' on this issue! She also reached out to the organizers of the effort to help them organize the program better, in order to be more sustainable." 
"Alisha has never made controversial statements, has embraced the community as her own, and has never displayed a personal agenda. She appears to be well-respected, attended a week-long CML conference, and cooperation between Nederland and Boulder County and the USFS have blossomed during her tenure." 
"She understands this town very well. Nederland is her home town, having her child go to school here, and supports all town activities and events as much as she can. She volunteers her time for the Thanksgiving Dinner and 4th of July, supports fundraising events, talks at the school during lessons on civics, works out at the fitness center, shops at B&F, caters from local restaurants, has her daughter take music lessons from local musicians – I think there is an honest interest there. She absolutely conveys the policies and programs of the Town. Regardless, if it is a 40-year local who happens to be her neighbor building a new home, to a guy who just moved to the area and wants to open up a new store, she treats everyone equally and by the code. There is no bending of the rules for anyone for any reason. Along with this just being the correct and honest policy to adhere to, it also prevents any liability or misconception."

"Perhaps one of her most identifiable strengths is how she is able to manage the diversity of thoughts and opinions from the citizens. She remains impartial and respectful of all our citizens."
I commend Alisha and Town Staff on a job well done. Our Advisory Boards provided many recommendations as well, so, I am looking forward to an even better year for 2014.


[Here is a Video Valediction] In stark contrast to arm wrestling, this is Leigh Nash and Sixpence None The Richer with their video, There She Goes. [What is a Video Valediction?]