As Deputy Mayor of Lakewood, I worked with fellow council members to ensure city government had a healthy rainy-day fund to respond to emergencies and economic downturn, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hired a highly competent City Manager and adopted sound financial policies. Together, we guided the City through challenging financial waters. The City is financially strong, maintains solid reserves, enjoys an improved bond rating (with very low debt), and consistently receives accolades for transparent and thorough budgeting.
While COVID-19 creates a new set of financial challenges for our city, I have the experience to help guide us through this latest challenge.
To ensure strong government operations that can serve all residents, even in times of crisis, we must:
- Maintain a robust rainy day fund to respond to emergencies, like the COVID-19 pandemic
- Keep our government nimble enough to adjust to changing economics
- Adopt sound fiscal policies and use taxpayer money wisely
- Hire excellent staff
Hire excellent staff
For a period of time, the City of Lakewood failed to maintain adequate financial reserves for those “rainy days.” When a new council was elected, we started to make changes. With Lakewood being a Council-Manager form of government, it was essential for us to hire an excellent city manager to develop the right culture with staff in order to execute Council’s adopted policies in a fiscally prudent manner.
Working closely with the city manager, the council was able to make some big changes which empowered the staff to find efficiencies and has placed Lakewood in a strong financial position.
Adopt sound fiscal policies
It is critical that we keep a healthy reserve fund in place for emergencies. In Lakewood, we have kept a healthy 12% of our general fund in reserve, giving us the resources required to respond in emergencies – like the one we’re in right now. I will fight for keeping a healthy reserve fund in our city budget.
When new programs are implemented, we must identify metrics that determine if the program is successful to ensure our tax dollars are being spent on impactful programs. I am pleased to have been part of that effort in the City of Lakewood. One notable example is the program to embed a mental health professional with our police department. That program proved to work and was worthy of continued and increased funding.
It’s important that our city council look at government programs objectively, funding those that make an impact while shuttering those that do not.
Keep our government nimble
Having an efficient, nimble city government is critical for delivering the services and support our community needs and expects. I have the experience to understand that government must be efficient and nimble in order to respond to both opportunities as well as emergencies.
On the Lakewood City Council, our sound fiscal policies gave us the room we needed in the budget to take advantage of grant funding for improving major infrastructure needs, like Veterans Drive and, soon, Washington Blvd, both major arterials in Lakewood.
Often, when grant funding is available, a project must be “shovel ready” to be eligible. Getting a project to “shovel ready” status requires a lot of work and money, environmental studies must be done, impacts must be evaluated, and plans must be drawn up. Oftentimes, grants will require a certain percentage to be matched by the municipality; having solid financial policies in place, and healthy reserves, helps ensure funding is available when opportunities arise.
As a business owner, elected leader, and member of the economic development community, I bring an entrepreneurial mindset to government that will ensure Lakewood continues to be ready for the next challenges in the years ahead.