2003 Annual Report
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
I am pleased to present the 2003 annual report for the Denver Regional Council of Governments. 2003 was a very significant year to our organization. It was a year of relationship and coalition-building to support our major initiatives on behalf of the region. Among the issues that have been important to DRCOG's member governments over the past few years is transportation funding equity-- funding the region's transportation budget at levels commensurate with our contribution to the state's transportation budget. Ultimately, the question we have asked is "Is 54 cents on the dollar adequate to fund our regional transportation system?" Throughout the year, this issue united our Board in a way I've never seen before. We worked very hard as a group to get our points across and to spread our message. And in 2004, we are still working together to gain support for greater funding for the region.
Over the next year, we need to keep our focus on Metro Vision and our future commitment to a region where our grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up and where we will age happily.
Melanie Worley, Chairman, 2003
Board of Directors
The fifty-one-member DRCOG Board of Directors pursued two aggressive agendas in 2003. Together, Board members campaigned for a larger share of the state's transportation dollars, using historic allocations, fair share and performance indicators as a basis for requesting more than the 28 percent allocation given to the region for funding projects to 2030. Using ad hoc committees and working groups, the Board also moved ahead on the process to update the region's long-range growth plan, Metro Vision, working to extend it from 2020 to 2030.
Transportation Funding Equity
Following up on a 2002 meeting with the Colorado General Assembly's Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC), the Board worked hard over the first six months of 2003 to communicate to the Colorado Transportation Commission the urgent need for more funds to increase mobility in the metro area. A second meeting with the TLRC in August of 2003 focused again on the resource allocation issue and the Board came away with a plan to pursue legislation that would guarantee the Denver metro region at least a 90-cent return on every dollar contributed from the metro area. By December, Board members began making presentations to their elected colleagues and asked for support to pursue the guarantee. Although it happened in early 2004, it is important to report that a large number of cities and counties supported the effort with resolutions and the editorial boards of the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Boulder Daily Camera added their support for the region receiving "90 cents on the dollar." Armed with such strong support, the Board continues to focus on transportation funding equity in 2004.
Updating Metro Vision
In 1997, DRCOG adopted a long-range growth plan for the region, Metro Vision 2020. The adoption of the plan came about after extensive public meetings. Metro Vision's approach to regional planning and growth represented a new way of doing business in the region. Although minor changes had occurred over the years since 1997, the Board agreed that local governments, business organizations and public interest groups should examine the plan thoroughly and suggest changes to update the plan to 2030. Ad hoc committees and work groups studied each core element closely. Their recommendations are part of the public review of the updated plan occurring in 2004.
Baghdad City Council Visits DRCOG
The rebuilding of Iraq became a topic for the Board of DRCOG when, in December 2003, a five-man delegation from the newly formed Baghdad City Council came to Denver to see local governments and DRCOG in action. Former Glendale Mayor Joe Rice, an army colonel traveling with them, had used DRCOG as a model for setting up a new governing council for the city of Baghdad. Also accompanying them was Peter Kenney, Metro Mayors' Caucus director and former Clear Creek County Commissioner and DRCOG Board member, who was recruited to assist Rice in his work in Baghdad. DRCOG received press attention for its role as the model for the Baghdad City Council.
These events and more are detailed in the following annual report of the work of the DRCOG Board and staff for the year 2003.
PREPARING METRO VISION 2030 PLAN FOR 2004 ADOPTION
Throughout 2003, the Board of Directors concentrated on updating Metro Vision. In setting the update agenda, the Board decided to:
- Extend the plan to the year 2030;
- Review and refine Metro Vision's six core elements by clarifying and expanding the definition of each, if necessary;
- Consider adding a jobs/housing connection core element or including it in an existing core element;
- Create a way to regularly measure the progress being made to implement Metro Vision; and
- Review and examine semi-urban development
The Board realized the extensive work that needed to be done in 2003 and 2004 to accomplish its work on the Metro Vision update. Work groups examined the six core elements of Metro Vision and recommendations were made to the Ad Hoc Committee on Updating Metro Vision:
- Extent of urban development. The goal is to limit the region's growth over the next two decades, reducing sprawl but continuing to offer a variety of living opportunities to metro residents. A 2030 urban growth boundary of about 750 square miles defines where growth will be supported with a bank of 20 square miles for communities to use with Board approval.
- Balanced, multimodal transportation system. A system is envisioned that includes rapid transit, a bus network, regional beltways, bike and pedestrian facilities and improvements to the existing highway system.
- Urban Centers/Forms. Activity centers identified by local governments will serve as transit destinations; support retail, employment and housing; contain higher densities than the regional average; and encourage pedestrian travel. These centers can serve as focal points for social, business and community activity.
- Freestanding communities. Boulder, Brighton, Castle Rock and Longmont are to remain separate from the urban area, with an adequate employment/housing balance and internal transportation systems. These communities retain their visual and physical separation.
- Open space. A regional open space system should shape the region's form, protect environmental resources and provide recreational opportunities. Policies for protecting open space and the identification of strategic preservation focus areas are to be included in the update.
- Environmental Quality. The location and type of growth and land development have significant effects on the region's water and air quality. To protect water quality, infrastructure is planned consistent with the urban growth boundary and regional development patterns. The air pollution effect of transportation is addressed by development patterns which reduce the need for longer distance travel, alternative modes of travel and by technological improvements.
At workshops and open house meetings through the Denver area, several questions were explored to help those in the updating process. Among these questions were:
- Given the projected growth in population, how big should the urban growth area be?
- Should communities strive to develop urban centers with mixed uses and transit?
- How do we continue to protect open space within the region?
- Is it important to the region to keep freestanding communities buffered from the rest of the metropolitan area? Should we add more freestanding communities?
- What should our transportation network include by 2030?
CASTLE ROCK SIGNS MILE HIGH COMPACT, MORE TO COME
In November, the Town of Castle Rock joined a long list of metro jurisdictions agreeing to support the tenets of Metro Vision by signing the Mile High Compact. The Compact is a landmark voluntary intergovernmental agreement among local governments to support Metro Vision when developing their own local plans. Castle Rock became the thirty-second local government to sign the Compact. Several local governments that did not sign the Compact were taking another look at the Compact in early 2004.
DRCOG PREPARES NATURAL HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN FOR THE REGION
During most of 2003, a steering committee of federal, state and local government representatives worked with DRCOG staff to develop the Regional Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. A requirement of the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, the plan ensures eligibility for federal funding in the event of future natural disasters. The plan, approved by the Board, includes a risk assessment for each of the 13 natural hazards in the region, such as drought, hail and wildland fires.
UPDATE FOR REGIONAL LAND USE AND TRANSPORTATION MODEL
Through the cooperative efforts of DRCOG, the Regional Transportation District and the Colorado Department of Transportation, the regional land use and transportation model was upgraded in 2003. The model is the principal tool used by planners when evaluating regional growth and its effect on our transportation system and air quality, and it has a major impact on decision-making in projects such as T-REX, the Union Station Redevelopment and more.
REDUCED FUNDING FOR REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION NEEDS
Board works to increase funding for highways from current state funding
During any weekday rush hour in the metro Denver area, nearly one million commuters are on the road. In the past decade, the number of vehicle miles traveled has increased from 40 million per day to 60 million per day, helping distinguish the region as the nation's third most congested metropolitan area. As the need for more highways and more transit becomes greater, the Board has pursued a level of transportation funding that gives the metro area a larger percentage of state and federal funding. In 2002, the region's allocation for its long-range plan was set at 36 percent of the state's total transportation budget. Late in 2003, the amount was decreased to 28 percent. Given the metro area's contribution numbers, 56 percent of the state's population contributes more than 60 percent of the state's retail, income and sales tax, a 28 percent return was deemed inadequate to serve the metro area's future needs.
Decreased funding allocation requires reduction in projects for the future
Of major concern to the Board was that the new percentages were well below the historic funding levels for past long-range plans. In 1998, the Denver area received 46 percent of the state's allocation and in 2001, the percentage was reduced to 36 percent. The reduction to 28 percent requires the removal of more than $4 billion in projects over the next 20 years.
HIGHWAY NETWORKS SELECTED FOR AIR QUALITY TESTING
As part of the work to adopt a 2025 Interim Regional Transportation Plan, the Board approved alternative highway networks so they could be analyzed for air quality impacts. The plan is the principal policy document for identifying, funding and implementing multimodal transportation projects in the Denver region over the next 22 years. Once in the plan, projects are eligible for federal funding and regional priority ranking through the Transportation Improvement Program.
TRAFFIC SIGNALS PLAN GETS TRAFFIC MOVING
The Traffic Signal System Improvement Program finished a number of large timing/coordination improvement projects in 2003, including one for downtown Denver. The projects that reduce delay on signalized arterial streets in the region save fuel and lower air pollutant emissions by more than 24 tons per day.
There are more than 3,230 signals in the Denver metro area and they are operated by 28 local governments and three regions of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
THE TIP APPLICATION PROCESS GOES ONLINE
In 2003, projects for the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) were submitted electronically. As the region's Metropolitan Planning Organization, DRCOG is responsible for the preparation of the TIP in cooperation with local governments, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District. New technology and staff skills were key in setting up the online submission, saving time and money in the process. The TIP identifies all federally funded projects anticipated for implementation during a six-year period. It is normally prepared on a two-year cycle. TIP projects help to maintain the system, improve safety, reduce congestion and enhance the transportation system.
CARPOOL MATCHING GETS NEW LOOK
DRCOG marketing and outreach staff used some new messages to promote carpools and vanpools throughout the region. The programs became Carpool Plus. Advertising led those interested to the newly designed Web site for DRCOG's commuter services. The new design streamlined the process. The database connects people traveling to and from approximately the same locations.
DRCOG AND DENVER METRO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HONORED FOR ECOMMUTE PROGRAM
In March, DRCOG and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce were honored with the University of Colorado at Denver Wirth Chair's Award in the business category for their ecommute program. The award included a scholarship for $1,500 that was given to a student in the area of environmental studies. The Ecommute program is federally funded through the National Environmental Policy Institute, which offers businesses an incentive to start telework programs through the creation of mobile emissions credits.
DRCOG AGING SERVICES IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH VISITS TO LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
In 2003, the Aging Services Division of DRCOG was in full compliance with the facility visitation mandates for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. More specifically, an ombudsman visited each nursing home at least once a month and each assisted living residence was visited at least quarterly. Ombudsmen made 3,672 visits to more than 300 facilities. The DRCOG ombudsmen investigated 4,372 complaints, responded to 4,851 requests for information and referral, provided 80 community education presentations and provided 36 in-service training sessions for staff of long-term care facilities. The division uses a corps of volunteers along with paid professional staff for these oversight and advocacy responsibilities.
AGING PLAN ASSESSES NEEDS AND SETS FUNDING PRIORITIES
The Board adopted the region's Four-Year Plan for Aging Services, which guides the agency's funding decisions for aging programs. The plan describes the demographics of the older population, assesses older adult needs and unmet needs, and sets priorities and goals to provide senior services for the next four years. The Board also approved a plan for 2004 that institutes an extensive Aging Needs and Strengths Assessment from which to plan future services. This 2004 project is being funded, in part, by Rose Community Foundation, the Phillips Family Foundation, and the Daniels Fund. DRCOG will also utilize federal Older Americans Act funding for this project.
DRCOG SPONSORS FORUM FOR EMPLOYERS ON ELDER CAREGIVING ISSUES IN THE WORKPLACE
In June, the Aging Services Division partnered with a number of local agencies and companies to convene a Forum on Working Caregivers. The event was designed to help human resources professionals deal with the needs of their employees as they begin, or continue, to care for aging relatives. Denver was one of five cities selected to host the forum, which was sponsored by the National Council on Aging. AT&T Family Care Development Fund provided some funding for the forum. Throughout 2003, the Aging Services Division continued to offer assistance to companies needing information and advice on this critical workplace issue. In 2003, Aging Services staff also helped form a "Workforce Caregiver Coalition of Metro Denver" in which employers met (and continue to meet) monthly at DRCOG to discuss workplace caregiving issues.
STATE FUNDING FOR SENIOR SERVICES MONIES ALLOTTED BY DRCOG TO ASSIST COUNTIES
As part of the State Fiscal Year 2003-04 budget bill, the Colorado General Assembly allocated approximately $4.5 million in State Funding for Senior Services monies. As the designated Area Agency on Aging for the eight-county metro area, DRCOG received approximately $1.8 million of this allocation. The entire $1.8 million was allocated by DRCOG as pass-through funding to local service providers and local governments. DRCOG specifically allocated about half of these one-time-only funds directly to county governments in the region. The intent was to assist counties in dealing with budget cuts in various social services programs affecting older adults, such as Medicaid transportation and Old Age Pension. Among the programs funded were transportation to medical appointments, dental, vision and hearing services, and general assistance for older adults.
BOARD GAINS INSIGHT THROUGH DRCOG SHORT COURSES
At the request of the Board, a committee of Board members and staff prepared curriculum for four courses on major areas of decision-making: transportation, Metro Vision, water quality and aging services. Each of the four short courses was held during the early part of 2003. Board members who attended all four courses were presented a certificate of completion. The short-courses are being repeated again in 2004.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AWARDS PROGRAM SHOWCASES AREA PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Award winners announced at the annual DRCOG Awards Dinner were focused on planning and development. Most were examples of intergovernmental agreements and communities banded together to achieve common goals. Douglas County and Parker agreed to a comprehensive development plan for their region and the four communities of Erie, Louisville, Superior and Broomfield joined together to develop a regional water supply. These examples and others point out the advantages of regional cooperation.
TESTING FOR POLICE APPLICANTS NOW DONE DAILY
Testing for applicants to the COPS program became an every day occurrence in 2003. As one of the shared services programs of DRCOG, applicants are tested by DRCOG and considered for employment with 23 police departments in the metro area. Three major test dates will be held each year in addition to the more flexible daily testing. The testing process now allows a candidate to come to the DRCOG offices anytime during the day to take the two-hour test under supervision.
METRO VISION RESOURCE CENTER TAILORS REPORTS FOR USERS
To accommodate the ever-growing demand for information, the Metro Vision Resource Center developed databases that could be used to compile any information requested about participating communities. The DRCOG Web site provides an easy way to collect community data either as a full community profile or a customized profile. The Web site also invites users to request socioeconomic and spatial information on demand by sending staff an immediate request.
2003 BUDGET FIGURES
DRCOG also administered $7,499,558 in pass-through funds.
2003 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Larry W. Pace,
BROOMFIELD, City & County--
CLEAR CREEK COUNTY--
DENVER, City & County--
Melanie A. Worley,
Richard M. Sheehan,
CITIES AND TOWNS
Lorraine M. Anderson,
Alfred "Pete" Pedro,
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE--
Mayor Pro Tem
Noel I. Busck,