Mayor’s New Year’s Article

Happy New Year to everyone of Salida’s citizens and friends.  2010 was surely a wild ride with many months of reduced revenue and a sudden turn around to where we will actually added to the City’s unrestricted reserves.  However, a larger question looms.  How will  federal, state and county deficits effect our small municipality?  The State of Colorado anticipates a 140 million revenue reduction in 2011 due to lower property tax valuations.  Chaffee County continues to struggle with the budgetary hole created by Emergency Medical Services and the Dispatch Center.  The Department of Local Affairs Mineral Impact Grant funding has been largely shifted from local projects to the State in an attempt to fund Colorado’s state programs.  I expect all of these factors will effect Salida.

I have just completed a fascinating book by Jonah Lehrer called “How We Decide”.  It is available at Salida Regional LIbrary.  One of the more amusing sections deals with a study regarding political commentators.  Looking at over 82,000 commentaries regarding specific concerns the researcher found the pundits were correct  about one third of the time.  Further, the researchers found that the more prominent the commentator, the less accurate was his commentary.  The reason behind the less accurate prognostication, according to the neuroscientists, is the “sin of certainty”.   (One digression is that a prominent commentator is probably defined by the number of people that read or listen to that commentator.  I guess that means most of us are listening to the wrong people.) As an avalanche forecaster I found some people wanted certainty in the snow stability forecast.  Within that field “certainty” is simply not possible.  You play percentages with the wise use of weather data and the terrain you choose to travel in, but the only thing that is predictable is that nothing is predictable.

I have learned being Mayor of Salida offers the same sort of challenge.  The City Council should be making rational decisions based on facts.  A chief fact is the amount of revenue in the upcoming year, but this very desirable information is uncertain.  Staff and Council can only guess.  As a result we become more like open field runners in football-reacting to the changing conditions on the field as we perceive them.  I believe that the constant changing of the environment in which the City of Salida operates reduces the chances of the “sin of certainty”.  My hope is that future decisions will continue to be based upon the uncertainty of conditions rather than the certainty of ideology.

On another note, I believe there is some confusion in the discussion that exists regarding government.  I hear often the the City of Salida’s Council is not transparent.  My retort is that nothing is transparent if you do not take the time to look.  We are now broadcasting the Council meetings live on Channel 10.  The recorded version plays repeatedly on Channel 10 after each meeting.  Once we get some equipment issues sorted out the Tuesday morning work session that takes place the morning of each council meeting will also be live on Channel 10.  Planning and Zoning meetings are on Channel 10.   The weekly City of Salida article in The Mountain Mail continues and I am on KHEN at 9 AM the Wednesday following every City Council meeting.  If you have other ideas that would aid your understanding of what Salida is up to please feel free to contact me.  My contact information is on the City of Salida web site.

Finally, our community lost a gem this week with the death of Eric Lundberg.  My heart goes out to Eric’s friends and family.

Chuck Rose, 1/1/11