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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Delta council member takes a look at hot topics

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Dear Editor:

I recently read some thought-provoking comments by a city council candidate. I don't know if the comments were intended to create dissension within the current city council or an opportunity for the writer to promote their own personal, political and philosophical agenda.

Let's take a look back at the City of Delta and several issues that have caused more than one raised eyebrow.

Devils Thumb Golf Course -- This has been a burr under a lot of saddles for a long time. Did you know that the retention of Delta's Grand Mesa water rights had a direct link to the creation of our golf course? Has the golf course been utilized to maximize its revenue potential for the City of Delta? The simple answer is NO! but significant progress is being made to that end. Did you know that for the second year in a row, Devil's Thumb Golf Course has been ranked third in the category "Best Western Slope Course." The recognition comes from Colorado Avid Golfer, 3/16/2017. Whether or not you play, come up and see what a true asset to the community looks like and you may even get to see where our local antelope play. If you see one of our parks and recreation employees, a "thank you" goes a long way.

The bypass (also known as Confluence Drive) -- This particular burr is subsiding as more and more people utilize it. I admit that I wasn't in favor of it during its inception and construction. My biggest concern was the potential negative impact on our downtown businesses. On the contrary. It has actually improved our downtown by relieving some of the truck traffic. Just like a fine wine, its usage gets better with age. Now it's our turn to help those businesses.

With regard to the golf course and the bypass, my philosophy is simple. We aren't going to do away with either, nor should we. Let's maximize their benefits to our community by recognizing and capitalizing on their potential.

DURA (Delta Urban Renewal Authority) -- This is one of the tools available to a municipality to generate funds for a project or projects. There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions of what DURA is all about. As with most anything, there are proponents and opponents of a DURA and TIF. Under DURA, the municipality has the ability to create a TIF (tax increment financing). This probably creates the biggest misunderstandings. A TIF DOES NOT take any existing mill levy away from a taxing entity. It only affects any increased taxes due to property improvement valuations and only for the life of the TIF. In short, the DURA and TIF are there to create incentives for properties and investors to improve and ultimately increase the tax base. Did you know that the City of Delta does not receive any property tax money? Our main source of revenue comes from sales taxes.

I have heard it said that these improvements would best serve the community if they were 100 percent funded with other than government monies. I completely concur. Unfortunately, private investors are not exactly beating our city doors down. How long can we wait to see if they come? I have heard it said that government does not create jobs. For the most part, that is true, but this is where your elected and employed city officials come into play. It is our responsibility, with your participation, to create the vision, incentives and catalyst for those jobs and projects. Is there risk? Yes! There is risk with anything that produces dividends. The reality is that if we're not moving forward, we're going backwards. Perhaps you have heard the saying that "success breeds success."

Now here's a topic that will generate some raised eyebrows. Delta has had a revolving door with city managers. I'm not going to try and explain why, because quite honestly, I don't know why. I do know that looking backward for justification does not fit with our vision for Delta moving forward. Our city manager Dave Torgler, brought to the city a wealth of knowledge, experience and management skills that you would expect to find in much larger communities. His methodical approach to funding solutions, partnerships and community involvement is evident on a daily basis. As a community, we must give him the opportunity to bring those visions to fruition. If you don't know him, I would encourage you to meet with him and discuss your visions and concerns.

There are basically two forms of government at the municipal level. The first is the "mayor-council" and the second is "council-city manager" also referred to as "home rule." Delta is the latter. The council is elected by the voters and the city manager is hired by the council and answers directly to the council. All other city employees answer directly to the city manager through department heads.

In addition to the two scheduled council meeting each month, there are also numerous work sessions where a variety of issues and topics are dealt with. If any of the topics require a vote, resolution or enactment it is passed onto the council to be voted on. All of these meetings are posted and comply with the open meeting laws. Community involvement is always welcomed and encouraged.

I bring up these points for clarification of council proceedings. Sometimes, things are said and written about that don't include all the facts. Comments may even appear to be more of a conflict with one's personal philosophical agenda.

As a council member and as your mayor pro-tem, I am committed to providing leadership on the council as well as the various boards I serve on. It is my belief that a cohesive council is an effective council. Do we agree on every issue or topic? No! Do we all agree on doing our best for the citizens of Delta? Yes! Are there still issues that need to be addressed, and are we addressing them? Yes! As a citizen of Delta, we should all be very proud that we have some of the most dedicated, committed and competent employees serving our city. Remember, a "thank you" goes a long way.

Please know that I have only one agenda: to provide leadership and foster a community that we can all be proud of and one that instills that pride in our children. We must make every effort to create and maintain a community that perpetuates why we have chosen to live in Delta. Equally important is that we provide our children with the educational skills, employment opportunities and pride so they too will have a desire to make Delta their home.

Does progress have a price tag? Yes! Do we have to compromise those things that we love about Delta to achieve our goals? No!

Ron Austin

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