By Shari Phiel
Next month marks the one-year anniversary of the Town’s most recent advisory committee, the Berthoud Economic Resource Team. While the group continues to make progress and move forward, it is also looking at where it heads from here — a topic of frequent discussion at the group’s July 13 meeting at Town Hall.
The imminent departure of Town Administrator Jim White at the end of the month will leave the group without a permanent Town staff liaison. Trustee Glen Buckingham did state that an interim Town administrator has been hired and would fill that role until a permanent replacement is located. In addition, staff Administrative Assistant Lisa Underhill will help with requests for funding, submitting requests to the board and other activities.
BERT chair Becky Justice Hemman noted the group has been operating without guidance and structure since its inception last August. BERT will be asking the Board of Trustees to create a structure for the team similar to that of the Planning and Zoning Commission with the hope that BERT will be able to work directly with Town staff rather than always being required to go through the Board of Trustees or a staff liaison.
The group is also looking for guidance on their roles and responsibilities, how internal communications (those between BERT and the BOT or Town staff) should be handled and how external communications with other agencies, governmental bodies, employers and businesses should be directed.
Another item being considered is the remaining amount of funds available for economic development activities. Although the budget currently has between $30,000 and $35,000 earmarked for economic spending, the Town’s budget shortfall has left the accessibility of those funds in question.
Trustee Glen Buckingham, who attended the Monday evening meeting, noted several board members have discussed the issue and believe economic development activities important enough to the community to ensure the funds are made available and possibly even additional funds could be readied if necessary.
While a portion of the funds would be used for the creation of marketing materials and a new Web site for economic development, the majority would likely go towards hiring an economic development coordinator. Local developer Greg Ludlow echoed the sentiments of the group when he stated that finding someone to act as the single point of contact for perspective primary employers, retailers and other businesses is the most important item for the group.
One suggestion made was bring back Stephanie Salazar, the Denver-based consultant who worked with BERT and Town staff at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. That suggestion seemed to be met with general agreement from the BERT members as well.
While the number of BERT members has continued to expand over the year — there are now 15 members — six of the original members’ terms expire on Aug. 31. Those interested in continuing on for another term can do so by notifying Town Clerk Mary Cowdin, although new applicants can also contact Cowdin for details.