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Cortez City Government Aims For Increased Transparency And Public Trust With The 2022 Budget

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Lucas Brady Woods
/
KSJD

It’s a busy time in the Cortez city government. The annual budget for 2022 is in the works and new initiatives are being rolled out to improve transparency with the community. KSJD’s Lucas Brady Woods has more.

Let’s be honest, at first glance, a city budget might not seem like the most exciting thing going on these days.

But in reality, it’s a direct reflection of a city government’s priorities.

“If you really think about it, a budget, a municipal budget, like ours, is actually a policy statement.”

That’s Cortez City Manager Drew Sanders.

“It talks about what we're enabled to do for the community over the next year,” he says. “And I'm excited about that, because it really is just a solid roadmap for us to follow.”

Sanders says his office is currently preparing the 2022 city budget. In accordance with city procedure, once it’s drafted, the City Manager’s office presents the budget to the City Council. It’s presented as an ordinance, which means the Council can either approve or reject it. If it’s approved, it moves forward, and if it’s rejected, the City Manager takes it back to his office, revises it, and presents it again to the Council. They have until December 31 to pass a final budget for the following year.

But let’s back up for a second.

The budget is first being presented to the City Council at a special meeting this Saturday. The meeting will be open to the public, however no comments from the public will be allowed. City Manager Sanders for one, says transparency is one of his priorities, and, he says, it’ll be reflected in the preliminary budget.

“The public, you know, very often is feeling like they're in the dark,” says Sanders. “And you know, they don't get enough access to what is going on with a budget like that.”

According to Sanders, that’s why the city implemented a new online system where residents can look at specific data about government expenses.

That includes tax dollars. Through the online system, the public can review tax dollars with filters like how they’re budgeted and where they’re spent.

“I can't control bigger than Cortez. But in Cortez, we have opened the door to let you see where your tax dollars go,” says Sanders.

Sanders says more public participation will only help city government better serve the community.

“We're excited to get people involved. We feel that the more involvement the better,” he says. “We have representatives in the form of our city council that have to make those final decisions in the end. That input that helps them make those decisions.”

You can check out the new system by going to cleargov.com and by typing Cortez in the search bar. More information about that, and about Saturday’s budget meeting, is available at cityofcortez.com.

For KSJD News, I’m Lucas Brady Woods in Cortez.

Lucas is the News Director and host of NPR's Morning Edition for KSJD Community Radio. His work focuses on serving the public of the Four Corners with responsible, factual reporting.
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