Commissioner Steve Johnson
Six years ago, a hundred or so citizens from across Larimer County sat on folding chairs on the concrete floor of the Exhibition Hall at the Ranch with one simple task in mind: To dream about the future of Larimer County.
Larimer County Manager Linda Hoffman, brimming with enthusiasm and fresh ideas, challenged the group to think big. It was to be a foray into heretofore uncharted waters for Larimer County government, conceived to improve the quality of life for everyone in county. These were to be new initiatives — giant steps — above and beyond the ongoing important work of the county.
What was born out of that first meeting was the Larimer County Strategic Plan for 2013-2018. It wasn’t intended to be a document that simply sits on a shelf, its pages never to see the light of day. No, these were big goals with assigned staff, definite timelines and measurable outcomes to chart the future of what these leaders dreamed of seeing Larimer County become in the next five years.
The plan included four outward-facing goals focusing on community safety and well-being, economic development, emergency management, transportation, plus three inward-facing goals of greater collaborations, efficient operations, and customer service.
We are pleased to report that all seven goals have been realized. Perhaps the most ambitious initiative was to create a mental healthcare system to equal our excellent physical healthcare. With the passage of Larimer County Initiative 1A by the voters this month, this goal has been set in motion.
Also, as a result of the plan, we now have the best natural disaster and emergency response capability in the entire state, with robust training, citizen outreach, and a response network at the ready. In addition, we have a transportation plan to work on widening I-25 through regional collaboration. New initiatives in customer service include a new county website at larimer.org that has won a national award and more opportunities to conduct business with the county online.
But this is no time to rest on these laurels. New challenges and opportunities have arisen, and local governments are ready and able to respond to the needs of the community with much more agility and speed than federal or even state governments.
Much like six years ago, another group of citizens has met and again been tasked with dreaming of how Larimer County government might address the new emerging issues of the next five years. Out of that session three themes emerged that are being worked into goals to be pursued in a 2018-2023 Plan.
First, how do we ensure that our infrastructure is able to keep pace with the growth we are seeing in the community. Second, how can we work to lessen the barriers that so many families are facing, such as the cost of housing and child care. And third, how can county government keep current with a changing world and remain efficient and effective.
We’re still working on fine-tuning the three themes, but we’re already working with staff to implement these goals to make Larimer County an even better place to live.