Aside from reviving the idea of a tax on Boulder’s workers, another Cindy Carlisle proposal received some attention Tuesday night: paid assistants for city council members. They’re needed, she wrote, to help elected officials deal with the “considerable” workload.
“Serving on city council has become a full-time job, making it difficult for council members to have jobs outside of council.” She suggested that contingency funds be used to pay for administrative assistants for council members “who say they need them.” The assistants could “sort emails, field calls and make appointments; sort through what’s most important; and provide independent research and background information on timely issues.”
It would be tricky, legally, to implement, City Manager Jane Brautigam said. Assistants paid for out of the city budget would report to the city manager’s office; per the City Charter, council members wouldn’t be able to direct them to do work.
Nevertheless, Brautigam promised, “We’re going to do some research.”
Walk-and-talk with council on the table
Boulderites might soon have more options to interact with council. Two new engagement efforts were suggested Tuesday night as the city hopes to step up public participation.
The city’s pilot project to allow remote council comment via phone fell flat: only three participants utilized the call-in option during the four months it was operational. But the city may look at allowing pre-recorded testimony, via video or audio. Engagement Manager Sarah Huntley floated the idea, and council responded enthusiastically.
Councilman Bob Yates also suggested stealing a popular model from Boulder Community Health, which hosts Walk With a Doc events throughout the year. The concept is as simple as the name: One or more council members would show up at a pre-designated time and place and then walk a short path with participants, who could use the time to discuss ideas or concerns with elected officials.
It’s a doubly good idea, Yates said, because it hits engagement goals and promotes an initiative of Boulder’s transportation department that aims to get people to view walking as a viable alternative to driving.
The ideas may be discussed in more detail during council’s annual retreat, Friday, Jan. 18 from 4-9 p.m. at the Boulder Museum.