Cortez City Manager Shane Hale’s recently announced move to Windsor, Colorado, will be a gain for that city and a big loss for Cortez.
The city has seen a great deal of progress since his tenure here began late in 2011. Such progress has been made possible because Hale complements his own expertise by collaborating with the talented people who surround him. He has hired strong department heads and supported the staff the city already has, and he has enabled all those people to do their best work. He has mentored City Council members and provided them with the knowledge and understanding they need to make forward-looking decisions. He has worked hard.
The results have been impressive.
During his tenure, the city staff has moved from a cramped, outdated building to a facility that should serve it well for decades, and it incurred no debt to do so. Paradise Village has new water lines and improved streets and sidewalks, and that work was coordinated with the Cortez Sanitation District’s sewer-line improvement so that the disruption need not be repeated. The city has more energy-efficient street lighting. Water meters have been upgraded, allowing the city to detect leaks much more quickly, an improvement that both conserves precious water and protects residents from the shock of unexpectedly high bills.
Osprey Packs has a beautiful new headquarters building staffed with well-paid employees because the city was able to give the company what it needed in order to be able to stay. Cortez also has developed a tax plan to financially incentivize and recognize local businesses that are working to grow.
Beautification projects have been launched, and some of them have been completed. The city has partnered with local businesses to improve the look and feel of the city.
Again, all those accomplishments should be credited to a whole team: Hale, council members, staff members and citizens. That’s the lasting mark of a good leader.
More plans are in place. The site of the retired high school will be utilized for a south-side park and attractive, modern affordable housing. A pilot fiber-optic plan to serve city businesses and residents is well on its way.
The fact that Hale is leaving unfinished projects is a sign of two of his best traits: Even when applying for a new job and then planning to relocate, he hasn’t slowed down his efforts for Cortez, and he knows that successful execution of those plans does not depend on his presence.
Hale is a dedicated professional who brought with him a good grasp of public administration and policy, what it takes to make a city run well. He came to Cortez with a vision for the community, dove in, worked hard, and got a lot done. He has been responsive and respectful to citizens, whether they had complaints or new ideas.
He will carry all those qualities on to Windsor, but he will leave behind a legacy of a city that is financially stable and staffed with qualified people who know what needs to happen next. The next city manager will appreciate the groundwork Shane Hale has laid, and the people of Cortez should too.