I was particularly impressed by processes in place that make it easy for people to be involved in decision-making. A Regular Session of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors is held every Tuesday, and is often followed by a Work Session. These sessions are open to the public, with the Regular Session equivalent to Dorset Council’s monthly Council Meeting and the Work Session equivalent to our monthly Council Workshop. The Board of Supervisors are seated so that they face a central podium, where County employees, applicants and the general public can address the Board throughout the sessions. Doors are left open, and the public can come and go as they like throughout the day (with the exception of any Executive Session, when the Board may recess to consider confidential/legal items). There is a system in place so that is it easy for community members to raise issues of concern for future consideration, or to comment on items already on the agenda. Permitting the public to see, hear and even comment on work sessions provides a whole new level of transparency that I have not before experienced in local government. Open access to the equivalent of our Council Workshops allows the community to more clearly understand the reasoning behind decisions that may then be made by the elected members at a Council Meeting.
- All liquids in the Public Works Department workshops are stored over spill containers (even when in use), to ensure any possible future leaks or spills will be captured. Fleet Services Division Manager, Byron Browning, indicated this prevents any contaminants from entering the stormwater system and also helps to avoid creating a slipping hazard for employees, with employee safety and protecting the environment being top priorities for his team. The Fleet Services Workshop was the cleanest workshop I have ever seen!
- The Community Services Department has a specialised support program in place for anyone receiving welfare payments, immediately connecting applicants with their own caseworker who remains with the individual throughout the entirety of their connection to the welfare system. The caseworker discusses barriers, talents and goals, with a focus on the positives and getting the individual away from needing future welfare payments. The individual is provided with free training and workshops, such as financial literacy workshops to promote behavioural change in the way they spend and save. The caseworker checks-in at least once a month to see how an individual is tracking, finding out whether they are achieving their goals or if further support and training is required to help them become independent. With limited welfare available there may be fewer issues associated with welfare dependence in the US, but directly linking financial assistance with this sort of support helps to break any cycles and gets people standing on their own two feet again.
Thank you so much for having me stay Coconino County!