Editorial: A great first step
Last week in this space, we editorialized about the vital role transparency and community involvement play in building and maintaining effective, responsive government, especially at the local level, and this week, we witnessed a sterling example.
On Tuesday, the recently formed Joint Services Workgroup — an advisory committee composed of representatives from the city of Craig and Moffat County — gathered at Craig City Hall to continue exploring ways the city and county might work together to gain efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.
When we were first made aware of the meeting, it was unclear whether the group would open its discussions to the public. Because the Joint Services Workgroup initially included only two city council members and one county commissioner, and because it was formed as an advisory body, neither the city nor the county was specifically obligated under statute to notice the meeting or invite the public.
But even absent specific statutory requirements, the officials sitting on the workgroup chose to open Tuesday’s proceedings to the public, and we cannot commend them highly enough for their decision.
As we noted last week, public business should be conducted in public, and by noticing Tuesday’s meeting, our elected officials showed their willingness to do just that.
On the flip side of the coin, the public responded in force, turning the meeting into a standing-room-only affair, and we cannot help but think the presence of the public served to temper the group’s discussions and encourage a spirit of cooperation and honest communication.
Topics discussed on Tuesday included the potential for city/county cooperation on highway, street, and pedestrian improvements; law enforcement; and parks and recreation.
So far, the discussions have been preliminary, and we don’t know if any of the ideas being discussed will turn into viable options. Yet, we are encouraged that the city and county are talking and that the public is listening.
Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume pointed out during the meeting that the public is frustrated with government, because the general perception is that, for all the talk, nothing ever gets done. He also noted that public participation and community buy-in will be essential if any of the workgroup’s ideas are to bear fruit.
We agree wholeheartedly.
Opening a dialogue is a great first step, but taking that first step won’t mean much unless it’s followed by a second step … then, a third.
So, we encourage our leaders to continue their efforts toward maximizing our resources to the benefit of all, and we encourage our neighbors to continue their involvement in the process.
As Moffat County Commissioner Ray Beck noted near the close of the meeting, “At the end of the day, it comes down to what’s best for the city, the county, and the community.”
Wise words … and, based on what we observed Tuesday, those words may herald the birth of a new spirit of cooperation in Craig and Moffat County.