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County hopes to collaborate with local entities on services, programs

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By Corinne Westeman

Clear Creek County has asked other government entities and nonprofits whether they provide any of the same services and programs in the long-term hopes of consolidating on some of them and, thus, saving tax dollars.

On April 30, more than 60 people representing municipalities, special districts, watershed associations, chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, nonprofits and so forth gathered at the Rocky Mountain Village to review the county’s 800 services and programs to see if there was any overlap with their own.

As of Friday, the county was still doing data entry on the participants’ responses, but the organizers said that, thus far, everything has looked encouraging.

“Already, with the municipalities and special districts, there will be overlap in services like human resources, IT and snowplowing,” Beth Luther, executive assistant to the Board of County Commissioners, said. “Whether we can combine services is a whole different story.”

Chris Fabian of ResourceX, who facilitated the April 30 meeting, said the results will be submitted to the county by late May. In this way, the county and other entities can start working on potential opportunities for partnerships, regional services, and/or consolidation.

“You are optimizing the resources that you have across a region,” Fabian said at the April 30 meeting. “... There are already some (partnerships) that exist in the county. This is trying to take it to an entirely new level ... by providing new services or expanding/enhancing current programs. And, to do that you must free up and reallocate resources and/or generate new revenue.”

Fabian said Clear Creek is only the second area in Colorado to undergo this exercise. The first was Moffat County.

During Moffat’s community exercise, Fabian said that the Moffat school district had 122 services overlapping with the county’s, which accounted for $3.2 million of the county’s $31 million annual operating budget.

Moffat County also found overlapping services with the City of Craig, Memorial Regional Hospital and Northwestern Community College, Fabian said. He gave the example of the hospital, which had recently contracted out its laundry services, but — through the exercise — found that the county jail also had laundry services.

Overall, Fabian said, only 41 percent of Moffat County’s services and programs didn’t match up with any other local entities, which he said is about average among ResourceX clients.

In addition to local entities looking at all of its services, Clear Creek County also asked its department heads to look over the list to see whether there were any redundancies internally, Luther said.

“What we wanted to do first was a full 100 percent accountability review,” Luther said. “... We’re going to go back and clean our own house first, and then take our collaborations from the community.”

The process’ next step, Fabian said, is reviewing all of the feedback from meeting participants from April 30 to see where the overlaps are.

In a preliminary count, the school district had 200 overlapping services with Clear Creek, such as fleet repairs, parks maintenance and mowing, Fabian said. Georgetown likewise had an informal count of 300 overlapping services, including researching property records.

“The next level after that will be, even if (the services) overlap, what is the solution?” Fabian said. “Does Clear Creek County provide a consolidated service? Does it outsource it or something else?”

Once all the data is compiled, Fabian explained, the county can use that during its 2019 budgeting process to see if it can save any money from its approximately $35 million in annual expenses.

“From the taxpayers’ perspective, it’s something that’s quite a bold step for these agencies to try to accomplish,” Fabian said. “ ... It’s a different answer to the question beside cutting the budget or asking for more tax dollars.”