By Lovel Pratt
Since a number of my fellow council members are speaking out in regard to the charter propositions, I feel compelled to share my perspective.
That said, I will serve San Juan County in whatever way the voters choose.
I support all three charter propositions. Proposition 1 will improve our charter with countywide elections for all council positions. This will ensure that council members have a countywide perspective and countywide accountability. Council members are most effective when they pay particular attention to the needs and concerns of their district while at the same time being responsive to all citizens, understanding the issues countywide, and considering the countywide implications of all decisions.
This has been my practice during my first term on the county council. I work 50-60 hours a week and make myself available to anyone in the county seven days a week.
One reason why I support the three-member council component of Proposition 1 is that this will require that all council meetings and the decision-making processes be noticed and open to the public. This is imperative if the charter is to be a means for the citizens of San Juan County to assert greater control over the actions of county government (as stated in the preamble to the charter). I support Proposition 3 which will require all council meetings, even subcommittee meetings, to be noticed and open to the public.
The main reason for my support of Proposition 2 is budgetary.
As hard as it has been to address this recession with budget cuts, workforce reductions and concessions, and the requests to voters for more revenues, it will be much harder to exercise the discipline that will be required to maintain a sustainable budget when the economy improves and to appropriately allocate any additional revenues.
The county administrator’s job description is imbedded in the charter. The former county administrator frequently raised the issue of the lack of resources for him to accomplish his job. The charter as it now exists gives a future county administrator the basis to demand a larger share of county resources in order to comply with the powers and duties specified in the current charter. This will not necessarily be in the best interests of the citizens given other county priorities.
The charter will be improved by Proposition 2. County government would still benefit from a professional administrator in the form of a county manager. The county council would develop a job description for the county manager that can take into account the resources available, the current county priorities, and the potential for more collaboration, and, more importantly, economic efficiencies, among the other elected departments.
Please join me to improve our charter by approving all three charter propositions. Thank you.