Stay involved

Dear Editor:

The Pagosa Springs community is blessed when honest, conscientious, customer-oriented citizens step up to run for public office.

Service on a public board, such as the board of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), is sometimes a thankless job. The job pays no salary; the decisions require familiarity with complex technical and financial questions, which in turn demands hours of careful study on the part of the board members.

And it’s the media’s job, as the community’s designated armchair quarterbacks, to publicly dissect and criticize every decision you make as a board member. It’s not a terribly pleasant position to place yourself in.

The PAWSD customers and taxpayers are fortunate, on May 6, to have a choice of five people who’ve stepped up to run for two vacant board seats. We have to take our hats off to all five of these willing citizens for offering themselves as our candidates.

Two of the candidates now running for the PAWSD board stand out, in my opinion, as excellent choices: Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver. I encourage all PAWSD customers and taxpayers to cast votes for these two gentlemen on or before May 6.

That said, there’s an even more important thing for PAWSD customers to do: stay involved in the District’s decision-making processes. The PAWSD bureaucracy, with its generous $25 million annual budget, quite naturally has a lot of interesting projects, on which it would like to spend your fees and taxes … and some of the ideas are, unfortunately, expensive and wasteful … like the $5 million “Biosolids Greenhouse” that doesn’t produce a usable biosolids product, but only the smell of one.

I’ve spent the last decade as a political reporter here in Pagosa Springs, and I’ve watched the PAWSD organization completely change its direction concerning the potentially disastrous $357 million Dry Gulch Reservoir project and the accompanying “Water Resource Fee” that played havoc with Pagosa’s construction industry. That change of direction took place because the citizens of Archuleta County got involved in the decision-making process.

Citizen involvement — attendance at meetings, sharing news with friends, contacting board members via email, studying the crucial issues — is essential, if we want to insure customer-oriented decisions.

Step one: Please vote on May 6. Then please stay involved.

Bill Hudson

This story was posted on May 1, 2014.