Sky-Hi Transparency Project Towns and County Evaluations
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Scoring InformationGrand LakeGranbyKremmlingHot Sulphur SpringsFraserWinter ParkGrand CountyGeneral notes
WebsiteMinutes & agendas posted for past three years (5) Bonus for posting board meeting packet (2)5Meeting minutes since 2011, only the current agenda (-2). Bonus for board packet (+2)5Meetings and agendas only since 2013 (-2) Bonus point for posting packet (+2)1Minutes only since 2013 (-2), only current agenda (-2)3Meetings and agendas only since 2012 (-2)2.5Only agendas for upcoming meetings, no past agendas and no minutes. (-4.5) Bonus points for board packet (+2). 7All agendas and minutes posted for past three years. Bonus points for posting board packets (+2). 5All agendas and minutes easy to find.Websites are becoming extremely important to the voting public. They can serve to alleviate the need for copying fees and records research/retrieval fees. If governments are proactive in posting information and making records available online, it saves government staff the exercise of answering phone calls and responding to simple records requests, and it saves the public from having to pay sometimes ridiculous fees for retrieval. The more transparent the website, the better for everyone.
Budget/expenditures posted for past three years (5)4Only current budget (-1), accounts payable posted4.5Only current budget and 2013 budget (-.5), financials posted 1No budgets (-4) but expenditures posted for current year. We asked Kremmling Town Manager Mark Campbell about the town’s website and learned the town had updated its website three months prior to make it more user-friendly, which we applaud. Campbell said it was likely that during the upgrade, several documents did not get re-posted. 0No budget or financials posted2Only the current budget (-1), no expenditures (-2)4Current and past budgets posted under finance department. Also include comprehensive financial report and sales tax report, but no expenditures. (-1)4Current and past budgets posted, financial reports posted, but no expenditures. (-1)
Contact information of elected officials/staff (5)2.5Emails for staff and mayor. No phone numbers for any officials (-1), and no contact info for other elected officials(-1.5). 4.5Included emails for all key staff and elected officials, but only half had phone numbers (-.5). Mayor also includes cell phone. 1Includes names of officials and key staff, but no contact info. (-4) 4Lists all elected officials, but no contact info (-2). Includes contact info for staff. Lists terms for all elected officials (+1)3Elected officials listed, but no contact info (-2). Staff have contact info.4Lists council members and includes emails, but no phone numbers. (-1) Includes contact info for all key staff.5Contact info for elected offcials easy to find, including emails and phone numbers. Contact info for all key staff easy to find under relevant department sections. Some elected officials have photographs.The public is entitled to contact information of the people it elects for representation. Contact information should be on each government website, and should be easy to find.
Ease of locating documents (5)5Budgets, financial and minutes relativey easy to find.4.5Expenditures financial information a little difficult to find (-.5), but current budget is clearly posted, and agenda and minutes are easy to find.5Minutes and agendas easy to find, as are expenditures. Website is easy to navigate.4Minutes and agendas are easy to find, but no financial documents. (-1)3Where available, documents are easy to find and website easy to navigate. But no minutes. (-2)4.5Budget tricky to find, should be posted on homepage (-.5). Webpage easy to navigate, other documents easy to find under relevant sections.5Site is easy to navigate, and documents are easy to find under relevant departments.
Open records procedures and fees publsihed (5)3Website includes an open records request that has fees published, but it's hard to find. Staff responsible for handling request is not named (-1), no contact info (-1). 4Town clerk is named as handling records, and has contact info, and website has a records request form, but it's very hard to find (-1).0No information on this.0No information on this4Information is under Town Clerk's page, which includes open records form, instructions, and fees. But this information is hard to find. (-1)3Procedure published, although tricky to find (-1), under Town Clerk with all necessary contact info. Fees are not published. (-1)3Fairly easy to find under "Government Transparency Portal." Form includes instructions and fees, but fees are only explained generally (-2).There should be no suprises when a person request records from a government agency. Reasonable fees should be clearly outlined to prevent this.
Meetings notification (5)5Meetings are all included on town calendar, which is easy to find. 5Meetings info posted under Mayor and Board of Trustees, as well as FAQ. 0Upcoming meeting not posted. Only the last one (already occurred)5Town hall meetings posted on town calendar page.5Meetings announced under "Board of Trustees" 2Meetings are generally explained on website, but dates aren't easy to find (-3).5Posted right on the site's front page, and elsewhere in relevant sections.
MeetingsAgendas thoroughness (10)3Thourough agenda context, but no times for agenda items. We like they have page numbers to find information in the packet, which is also included as part of the agenda. Written in plain langauge that's easy to understand. Doesn't list place or address of meeting(-1). Didn't list times on agenda (-1) We didn’t have a pool to use for comparison. All the other towns except Kremmling supplied us with digital agendas, but Grand Lake required us to come to Town Hall to view them and make copies. We decided to dock them five points for this.(-5) We like they call public comment period "citizen participation"9.5The best agenda in our opinion. Very thorough with agenda item context. Written in plain langauge that's easy to understand. Easy for the average person unfamiliar with public meetings. Public comment period easy to find, with instructions. Times for discussion period listed. We encourage all other government agencies to look to Granby as an example. One thing could improve on is listing place of meeting -.5.0.5The most bare-bones agenda, no thoroughness (-3). Lists place of meeting, but not address (-.5). Times for agenda items not listed (-1). Only one agenda provided, so we did not have a pool to compare like all the other towns (-5). We could only find the current agenda online, others weren't provided. 9Does not list times (-1), but does provide some detail and context on action items. Lists time, place and address of meeting. Thoroughness is lacking, but we appreicate the fact they list dollar amounts associated with some action items. Public comment section is clear. Consent agenda needs explanation for those who don't know what that is. 9Lists place of meeting, but not address(-.5). Do list times of agenda items for some meetings (-.5). Lists full ordinances and provides useful details. Lists an "open forum," but confusing as to whether it's a public comment period (-.5). Need to provide instructions for public comment. Need to explain what a consent agenda is. But we like that they note upcoming meetings. (+.5)9No times (-1). Do have place and address. Need to explain what a consent agenda is. 7Doesn't list place of meeting or address (-1). Do list times very thoroughly. Sparse with detail (-2)Agendas should aspire to answer "why should I care?" They should be clear as to what public officials are really doing and discussing. The more detail, the better.
Minutes thoroughness (10)4.5Meeting coverage is thorough, minutes like a transcript including public comment. However, the bulk of Grand Lake trustees' discussions goes on at afternoon workshops, for which no minutes are taken and there are is no recording, before the bi-weekly official meetings. The town has been conducting meetings this way for decades as a way to limit the length of its night meetings . Although workshops may be legal, we feel consistently conducting them as Grand Lake does violates the spirit of the law governing open meetings, and is a special case that merits additional deduction (-5). Votes could be seperated out more clearly (-.5). 10Minutes read like a transcript. Votes are clear with bold type, and names each trustee's yes and no votes.8Action items and votes are clearly called out with caps. Details of discussion have a little more detail than some towns, but could be more thorough. (-2) Couldn't find a case of a trustee with a dissenting vote to see how that is recorded. 5Not very thorough. Very general explanations of trustees' discussion. (-5) Voting clearly called out with caps. Couldn't find a case of a trustee with a dissenting vote to see how that is recorded. 5Not very thorough. Very general explanations of trustee discussion. (-5) Votes are bolded, and provide a voting breakdown when votes aren't unanimous. 0We appreciate when they provide a breakdown of how council members vote, but this isn't consistent. Don't always provide a breakdown how trustees voted. (-5) Not very thorough. Very general explanations of council members' discussions. (-5)10What they lack in agenda thoroughness they make up for in minutes. Minutes are like reading a transcript of the meeting. Votes and action items are clear, including votes of individual commissioners.There is no law on how mintues should be executed, so there is little way to avoid subjectivity. We gave high scores for the minutes most like transcripts. The best scenario is to actually be at the meeting, but when that is not possible, minutes can serve to give a thorough rundown of meeting details, including discussions. Citizens are entitled to read the opinions of elected officials on all topics as one way to hold them accountable.
Draft minutes available (2 BONUS)0No2Yes, including draft notes2Yes, stamped "draft" 2Yes, including draft notes2Yes, 1-2 days after meeting, with 'draft' watermark0No2Yes. Meeting details also emailed to subscribersSince it sometimes takes weeks to get minutes approved by a board, we commend governments that share minutes in draft form. According to attorneys with the Colorado Press Assocation, draft minutes are public record and should be made available.
Automatic email notification (2 BONUS)2Yes2Yes0No0No2Yes2Yes2Yes
Exectuve Sessions -infrequency (5)2Did not provide the exact number of meetings, so we calculated general number of meetings per month (-1). 33 executive sessions/ 115 meetings = 28.7 percent (-2) 243 exec sessions/ 107 meetings = 40 percent (-3)4Best ratio showing least executive sessions, but did not provide the exact number of meetings so we had to calculate using general number of meetings per month. (-1) 4 executive sessions / 120 meetings. 3 percent 510 executive sessions/ 82 meeting = 12 percent 066 exec session/119 meetings, = 55 percent (-5)351 executive session/162 meetings = 31.5 percent (-2)2104 exec sessions/ 238 meetings 43.7 percent (-3). The less executive sessions, or closed meetings, the better in the spirit of transparency.
Executive Sessions - discussion before and after in public session (5)0There are no minutes directly before or following executive sessions, nor explanations for executive sessions because they're done during workshops.54Sufficient, but could have more thorough description (-1).4Good, but inconsistent (-1)551Grand County does a good job of recording its executive sessions information before and after meetings, and would have gotten the full 5 points in this category. However we used this category to bring up a meetings issue that we feel needs to be publicized. Grand County has a unique situation in that the commissioner office desks are all in one shared room. Although the newspaper has no proof of the County violating open meeting laws with this setup, we decided to dock points because the county did not remedy this scenario when it did its major renovation on the administration building in recent years, even though the newspaper took issue with the commissoner office back then too. Commissioner desks in one shared room with commissioners sharing the same office hours while conducting public business technically constitutes a public meeting. This to us could mean possible violations without the public, or perhaps even the commissioners themselves, even knowing. (-5) We did give back one point, however, for the ceiling camera in the county meeting room that shows the public on TVs in the room what the county is looking at on their meeting table (+1)We asked for meeting minutes directly before and after an executive session to ensure votes out of session in relation to an executive session are properly recorded. It's important to note, the Colorado Sunshine laws specify that when calling an executive meeting into session, boards should provide as much detail as possible about what that executive session will be about. For example, "personnel issue" or "disucussions with the attorney about legal matters" are too vague of reasons and would require more information.
FinancialsBudget - ease of navigation (10)6Exec summary is broken up by sections with underlined fund headings and subcategories. Spreadsheets provide comparisions since 2011. Sections and subsections bolded within charts. No table of contents of navigational tools. (-4)5Difficult to navigate. No table of contents or navigational tools (-4). Exec summary is difficult to scan through to find specific information about different funds. Lack of headings, bullets, etc. makes the summary diffiuclt to navigate. (-1) Budget spreadsheets use color coding to call out specific numbers, but it's confusing as to what the different colors mean. Subtractions are in red, which is helpful. Provides comparison since 2012. 10Executive summary has page numbers for each fund, which acts like a table of contents. In executive summary, figures and dollar amounts are bolded to aid in finding quickly. Summary clearly explains what the funds finance in simple language. Actual budget spreadsheets provide comparison for three years. Various categories have bolded sub-headins with bolded totals. Overall, budget simple to navigate.4Difficult to navigate. No table of contents or navigational tools (-4). No executive summary to guide reader (-2) . Budget spreadsheets are broken up by accounts within each fund, although this could be made more clear with bolding, colors, etc.. 10Executive summary is written in clear language that's easy to understand. Good transparency on budget process. Has page numbers for each fund, which acts like a table of contents. In executive summary, figures and dollar amounts are bolded to aid in finding quickly. Summary clearly explains what the funds finance in simple language. Actual budget provides comparison for three years within charts. Various categories have bolded sub-heads with bolded totals. Provides comparisons since 2011. Overall, budget simple to navigate.11By far the best budget in the pack. All other towns and the county should strive to meet this budget's exellence. Includes table of contents, with a clickable digital version, a readers' guide, a "top 10 budget questions and quick links" section, simple language, good design and graphic features to guide navigation. (+1)6Budget includes a table of contents. A BOCC budget message serves as a sort of executive summary, but it's buried 17 pages down in the budget document, making it difficult to locate (-1) but no executive summary (-2). Budget spreadsheets are broken up by accounts within each fund ,and totals are bolded, but volume of numbers in this bulky budget make navigation tedious. (-1) Provides comparison since 2011.Finance details are not everyone's cup of tea, so we encourage government agencies to make budget information as accessable as possible so that every citizen — not just the master accountants — can understand it.
Budget - charts and graphs (5)0No charts or graphs 0No charts or graphs0No charts or graphs0No charts or graphs.5Excellent graphics that enable people to make sense of budget complexities.5Excellent graphics that enable people to make sense of budget complexities.0No charts or graphs
Budget - executive summary (5)5Executive summary includes narrative features that help people make sense of trends and explanations for 2014 funding.5Executive summary includes narrative features that help people make sense of trends and explanations for 2014 spending.5Executive summary includes narrative features that help people make sense of trends and explanations for 2014 funding.1Beginning of budget has the language of adopted resolution, but no executive summary with narrative features or explanations (-4). Resolution does call out funds and revenues. 5Excellent executive summary. Includes narrative freatures and graphics with simple language. 5Best exectuive summary in the county.5Executive summary could be considered the BOCC budget message on p. 17. It's written in simple language that's easy to understand with narrative features that help make sense of trends.
Detailed expense reports (10)9Didn't have check number, but do have invoice number (-1)7Don't give specific date, just a range (-1), amount, no check number (-2), to whom payment made, what it's for10Included amount of payment, date, check number, to whom payment is made, what it was for6Doesn't have who it's to or what it's for (-4)7Date, payment amount, no check number, but do have reference number (-1), to whom payment was made, not what it was for (-2)8Don't include what payment is for (-2)10check number, date, name, description, amountDaily expense reports should show, in the least, check numbers, the dates, the names checks were issued to, what the checks were for and the amounts. Pertinant budget information related to checks would be helpful as well.
RecordsFees (5)2Fees of $50/hour for research and retrieval exceed reasonable range of $0-$25/hour (-3). Copy fees are listed and within legal limit of 25 cents per page. Published on the open records form.4Open records form says fee is $35/hour, above the reasonable range of $0-$25/hour (-1), but clerk Deb Hess said she has been charging $25. Copy fees are listed within legal limit of 25 cents per page.3Fees aren't published (-1), but town clerk said $24.94-$43.21/hour for research and retrieval. Some of these fees are above the reasonable rate (-1). Charge 25 cents for black and white copies, within legal range.5Hot Sulphur Springs' public records request form shows that routine requests for "search and retrieval" have a $15 an hour fee and "voluminous" requests have a charge of $25 per hour. Retrieval of off-site records has a charge of $20 an hour minimum. Standard copying is 25 cents, 11x17 copying is 50 cents. 4Fraser does an excellent job listing fees through its open records form. Form includes a comprehensive fee schedule. Research fees for non-management staff are $20/hour for research and retrieval, within the reasonable range of $0-$25/hour, but charges for management doing research is above the reasonable range (-1)4Hourly fee isn't included in open records request (-1), but town clerk said staff charges "up to $20/hour," within the reasonable range of $0-$25/hour.2Grand County's open records language says "each department may also charge a reasonable hourly fee," but does not specify the fee amount. The county clerk did not provide specific information on this hourly fee, even after email requests (-3). Open records language does include fee for copies, at 25 cents per page. A $0-$25 research and retrieval fee has been deemed "reasonable" per the Colorado Court of Appeals. There is no existing open records fee cap in Colorado, but current proposed legislation HB 1193 as currently written seeks to establish a fee cap at four-times the minimum wage, or at $32 an hour. State statute caps copy fees at 25 cents per page, but a recent piece from Complete Colorado challenges this fee, saying it far exceeds the actual costs of copying.
Response/fulfillment of request (5)2.5Got information and responded in due time, but didn't include exec. session minutes or number of meetings (partial fulfillment) (-2.5)5Fastest response and thorough fulfillment of request.2.5Responded quickly, but didn't completley fufill request5Quick response and thorough fulfillment5Quick response and thorough fulfillment.5Quick response and thorough fulfillment5Quick response and thorough fulfillmentA Colorado Open Records Request requires a government agency to respond to a request within three working days. If the request requires additional research and work, seven days may be granted to fulfill the request.
100 pts. (plus 6 bonus)