Last month we celebrated Black History Month and as the first African American commissioner in Arapahoe County, it is important to me to take stock of not only the achievements and progress we’ve made in becoming a more inclusive and diverse community, but also the myriad of work that lies ahead.
The same goes for the work of my fellow county commissioners and me. Our goal is for Arapahoe County to be the best place in Colorado to live, work and raise a family. And while it’s valuable to reflect on our accomplishments in achieving this goal, it’s imperative that we also identify the challenges and barriers we face in reaching this goal. But make no mistake, it is achievable.
First, let’s focus on why Arapahoe County is so special and the successes we’ve had. We can confidently boast a unique diversity of landscapes, industries, recreation and business opportunities, exceptional schools, strong economic growth and thriving communities. More than 655,000 residents call Arapahoe County home, making it the third largest County in Colorado. By 2030, the County will be home to 800,000 residents, surpassing the population of Denver and El Paso.
As my fellow commissioners and I noted on our Telephone Town Hall in January, our County has done an extraordinary job of managing our funds and using them wisely and efficiently. However, despite a long record of responsible budget management and good fiscal stewardship, current revenues coupled with this anticipated growth will make it challenging for the County to continue meeting the needs of our residents. Essential services that the County provides – public safety, human services, mental health programs and road maintenance – are at risk. These are complex issues that we’ve collectively identified as priorities and that we are committed to addressing, in partnership with County staff and residents.
We all are very aware that families across Colorado and the U.S. are currently faced with rising inflation and an uncertain economy, and we are forced to make the most of every dollar. County government is no different. We pursue efficiencies, innovations and cost-savings with our available resources. But the reality is that we will be unable to meet the needs of our growing community without making a concerted effort to stabilize our funding sources and modernize our finances.
Again, make no mistake, it is achievable…together.
In the coming weeks and months, your elected leaders look forward to connecting with you as we take a thoughtful approach to this journey ahead. Look for future telephone town hall events at www.arapahoegov.com/townhall, follow us on social media, or subscribe to The County Line newsletter to stay informed and get involved.
Leslie Summey is on the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners representing District 4, which includes the unincorporated area in north Arapahoe County and portions of the City of Aurora.