Dear Citizens of Cortez:
While the recall proponents characterize our achievements as a misuse of tax dollars, we are proud of the work accomplished by the city on your behalf over the past few years. Proponents continue to state that their small groups allegations have gone unchallenged. The Cortez Journal did a fact check of their claims early on in this process. Each counselor under recall threat was interviewed by the Cortez Journal and defended our position with facts. These articles are available in the Journal online. We have also responded in the Four Corners Free Press and on the Support Our Council Facebook page.
By now Im sure 99 percent of you have made up your mind as to how you will vote in this recall and, if you are like me, Tuesday, May 3, cannot come soon enough. The recall election will be over Tuesday night and the question becomes how to come together and continue to move Cortez forward in a fashion that provides the city the best chance to prosper now and in the future. Here are some tangible answers.
We all know how important tourism is to our city but the obvious downside of that is any drop in tourism hurts us. One of our main goals has been to create more stable and reliable revenue streams to the city.
Towards that effort, the city of Cortez installed a hydroelectric plant. The project has been completed approximately 20 percent below budget with the on-site construction being completed by a local contractor. Initial projections show a 17-year payback and then the project will be a revenue generator for the new hydro-electric enterprise fund. The payback should be reduced with the project coming in under budget. This is considered a model project for the state. The grant money used for the project (25 percent of project costs) was from energy severance tax dollars that the state targeted for energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.
Similarly, the implementation of the ongoing Fiber to the Business project is designed to encourage economic development and provide the city another source of income. It is also considered a model. This was possible because another forward-thinking council a decade ago decided to keep ownership of the fiber infrastructure and our knowledgeable staff has used it to our advantage.
Of course our biggest asset is our people.
Cortez, just like other cities across the nation has faced the daunting task of providing the existing level of services with fewer resources. Unlike other communities, the City of Cortez has maintained services and has avoided layoffs and furloughs through good management and fiscal responsibility. Our city manager, department heads and the rest of the staff have done an incredible job in working through this downturn. Our latest financial audit shows a $260,000 gain in our general fund balance. This points to an improvement in our local economy and, if that improvement is sustained, we need to make sure our employees are fairly compensated.
Is there anything positive that can come out of this recall regardless of the direction it takes?
In a previous letter I stated, The real outcome of a frivolous recall election is that good people avoid public service in the future, and critical community discussions that we need to have are diminished, but after seven months under the threat of a recall, Im not so sure that is this is the only outcome. The citizens I talked to have become far more aware of how the city functions and all of its checks and balances. They also now realize that a vocal minoritys wants must be weighed against the needs of the majority. Thus, it is my sincere belief that Cortez residents, rather than shying away from public service, will accept the challenge of doing the most good for the most people.
We continue to move forward during these fiscally challenging times with a diverse city council that agrees to disagree on contentious issues, but always strives to do what is in the best interest of all of our fellow residents.
We believe that a recall election should be reserved for officials who have done something unethical, illegal or immoral. We have acted with honesty and integrity, and are committed to continuing to improve our city, to make Cortez a great place for you and your family to work and live.
We encourage you to vote no on the city council recall.
Thank you for your support.
Dan Porter is mayor of Cortez. He is one of the targets of the recall effort.