Mayor Bob Delves addressed a crowd of about fifty on Thursday in a “State of the Village” forum.
“I would tell you the state of the Village is one of ongoing transition,” Delves said. “That is a transition from a company town to what is a real town, what is our town.”
Delves, who was elected to his second term on council in June and appointed to the mayor’s seat in July, updated the priorities he set for the town when he took his seat in July.
Delves’ first priority is to “achieve operational excellence in running the town.” This initiative, so far, he said, has cleared up the quasi-governmental structure in Mountain Village. For starters, at the beginning of 2007 the Mountain Village Metro District had been dissolved into the town and throughout the last year the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association has become more of a separate governing entity in Mountain Village as well.
“It was a very confusing and chaotic situation,” he said. “The good news is in the past year, we have a created a much nicer structure. Basically the town absorbed the district and we now have a clean line between the TMVOA and the town. The only moving piece between the two now is the gondola.”
Delves went on to say that the recent “rifts” between the town and the TMVOA over the 2008 Gondola budget will be worked out and that he is “not worried” about reaching an agreement. Currently, TMVOA provides all funding for the gondola while the town runs its everyday operations. The town and the TMVOA have also seen some “rifts” with the TMVOA’s effort to create what TMVOA calls a “master plan.” Delves said that any type of master plan can only be adopted by the town council and that they will “have to see” what the final plan outcome is. With that, it is Delves’s plan to “reengage with the TMVOA.”
In its effort to achieve operational excellence, the town has hired a new management team, which is led by Town Manager Greg Sparks, and has revised its code of ethics.
“We have welcomed a new management team with hiring Greg Sparks last June. Since he has been here we have had a lot of new people in a lot of new places. We have downsized departments including planning and building, finance and administrative services. We have also implemented a revised code of ethics, which was two paragraphs long and is now 14 pages long.”
Another priority for Delves has been to “increase the overall rigor in financial planning.” For this, Delves said, the town is holding its department heads more accountable and Sparks has set a goal for the town to achieve the Government Finance Officers Award for excellence in budgeting.
With the construction of several large hotels in the area still pending, Delves has set goals in communication and managing development in Mountain Village as a priority too.
“I want to tell you that we have already implemented quite a bit of change,” Delves said. “We have hired a DRB [design review board] inspector to make sure that the developers are following the DRB’s recommendations. We have hired a new chief building official along with a construction mitigation officer. We have also created the weekly ‘Construction in Mountain Village email.’”
Delves added that the town has also empowered the police to enforce building regulations and has implemented an increase in road impact fees because “our roads are starting to fall apart, so we are making them pay more.”
Delves not only wants to improve communications with citizens on development-related issues, but to improve overall communications between the town and its residents. For this, according to Delves, the town has hired a new Director of Community Relations, Michael DeLeon, who, with Sparks, is creating a strategic communication plan for 2008. In the coming weeks, the town will be mailing a citizen survey to get an idea of what issues remain their highest priority.
“I am convinced the only way we can understand what the community wants is through a survey,” Delves said.
Delves also wants to manage property taxes in a better way than the past.
“It is a work in process,” he said. “I can tell you that the mill levy went down and I will tell you the property taxes being paid in mass will be down. I don’t think that is satisfactory. At this time next year, I pledge to give you a better explanation.”
Delves closed the presentation by asserting that the town must continue to work with the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County on a variety of issues. He said the New Community Coalition “is a great example” of intergovernmental cooperation. With that cooperation, Delves hopes to achieve progress on other issues as well.
“Transportation and housing, these are the things we are not working on well enough regionally,” Delves said. “We have too many different organizations running vans in different directions. We can do a better job.”
The town is currently seeking candidates to fill the open seat on town council created by the resignation of Bob Trenary last month. Candidates must be willing to serve out the duration of the term until the town's June General Municipal Election in 2009, be a registered elector in Mountain Village, and have been a resident of Mountain Village for at least 120 days.
Any interested candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume or bio to the town by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10. Call 728-800 for more information.