As we approach autumn, I’m mindful of all that we’ve been through the past six months since COVID-19 appeared in Larimer County in March. I’m also very conscious of the Cameron Peak Fire that began August 13 burning thousands of acres and destroying people’s homes.
We’ve made good progress on both fronts and we must remain vigilant and united because these two emergencies — public health and wildfire disaster — are not over. Undoubtedly, we will rejoice when 2020 is over, and we can move forward in 2021.
Regardless of these unprecedented events, Larimer County Government functions effectively and responsibly to provide public services in the areas of community planning, infrastructure and resources, public safety, human and economic health, public records and information, and strategic leadership and administration.
Read our fifth annual 2019-2020 Community Report is available in English and Spanish. We’re committed to our six guiding principles: 1] being good stewards of public resources, 2) promoting innovation and continuous improvement, 3) providing quality customer services, 4) empowering people to take responsibility, 5) cultivating partnerships, and 6) being a fulfilling and enjoyable place to work.
Your community input and engagement are vital, and here are two great opportunities to participate and help the county be more transparent and accountable with your tax dollars. We invite you to visit our Build-Your-Own-Budget website (https://www.larimer.org/budget/Build-Your-Own-Budget). This new tool allows residents to prioritize program spending in the 2021 Budget with one requirement — every budget must balance.
The annual budget is the foundation for a wide array of public services and serves as the basis for determining the level of services provided. Demands for services change yearly, and the Larimer County Commissioners must balance the available resources with those demands. You can help us answer these types of questions: Which services should be expanded or cut? Should taxes or fees go up or down?
The interactive Build-Your-Own-Budget tool is a pilot project that helps residents participate in the budget process electronically, set custom revenue and expense projections, and offer suggestions on specific programs. In building custom budgets, residents see the big picture of “where the money comes from” and “where it goes” in the form of programs and services that Larimer County provides. Folks can also comment directly to our Budget Director, Josh Fudge, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Board of County Commissioners, at BOCC@larimer.org. View the 2020 Adopted Budget at https://www.larimer.org/budget/2020-adopted-budget.
Residents can also provide valuable input starting in October by completing the biannual Larimer County Community Survey. We’re interested in how folks feel about county services; the information helps us determine budget direction and levels of community engagement.
The survey asks questions about services: satisfaction, likes, dislikes, areas for improvement. The survey asks about relevant county issues: community needs, growth, taxes, future issues, and other matters important to community members. The results also help the commissioners further develop our 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. We also look at demographics, quality of life, and how you receive information about the county. Your input is needed as we move forward together.
John Kefalas is a Larimer County commissioner representing all of Larimer County.