Every Colorado city, county, and even special tax district has citizen-led boards and commissions that influence the making of local public policy. These volunteering activities have, at the very least, tax implications for you as a taxpayer, and often they have legal powers that can directly affect things like your private property rights. If you’ve always wanted to participate in your local government without getting elected, this board and commissions are a great way to get involved.
To take just one example, the city of Centennial has nine boards and commissions, from budget, audit and election committees to advisory and planning and spatial planning committees. For most of them, the city is currently accepting applications for openings and the application process is open until February 25, 2022.
Recently, an intern at the Independence Institute identified over five hundred boards and commissions in just eight front range counties. The many special districts such as subway districts, library districts, park and recreation districts and school districts were not even taken into account.
In fact, there are hundreds of such posts across the state, with local elected officials serving on these boards and commissions. “Serving on a local committee or commission is an ideal way to make a huge impact on your community and understand how your local government works,” said Centennial Councilor Don Sheehan.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single place where you can find all of the boards and commissions that you may be eligible to serve. In fact, your home address determines which myriad local governments and tax districts you live in. You can live in one district and the house across the street can be in a completely different district. A little homework on your part will save you some frustrations and open your eyes to how many different government agencies really affect your day-to-day life. Councilor Sheehan admitted, âduring [serving on a commission] can be challenging and sometimes even a little frustrating, it’s very rewarding. “
One place to start finding local boards and commissions is on your city or county website. You will be surprised what your local governments are up to. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many panels and commissions are still meeting online. You don’t even have to go to your city or county office to attend a meeting. Why not get in and see what your local planning and zoning authority is up to? You may be amazed at the power unelected ordinary people have.
Applications for boards and commissions are made online and are usually easily accessible. Why don’t you apply today? Many complain about excessive or unresponsive government, but how many get the solution? Our Constitution proclaims “We the People,” but many citizens choose to be silent observers. Remember, we get the government we choose. However, we also have the opportunity to actively participate through citizen-led bodies and commissions.
I’m convinced Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show was on the board of directors for the local library. She knew what was going on in her ward. She not only knew the inner workings of the library board, but also passed on the idea of ââcivic engagement to Andy and Opie. Maybe we should listen to Aunt Bea and get engaged.
Kathleen Chandler organizes local government involvement training at the Independence Institute, a Denver free market think tank.
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