Boxelder Gets Strategic About Effective Utility Management By Karen Reynolds, CWP ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER MAY 2017 | 29 OPERATIONS WHEN I TOOK OVER THE DIS-trict Manager role at Boxelder Sanitation District (BSD) in Fort Collins, Colorado, in June 2014, I was pretty excited. Six months later, I knew I had my hands full. Where to go? How to get there? Of course, everyone who manages the day-to-day at a utility with 4,500 plus customer accounts, 15 staff members, and a Board of Directors has their hands full, right? But at BSD, we had some extra challenges to tackle: North-ern Colorado was growing rapidly; the ever-present aging infrastructure was still aging; and there was an historical disconnect between the office and field staff. Dusty rate studies and master plans left too long on a shelf were not going to cut it. Moving forward, I knew I needed a good game plan—one that included a way to identify what was working, what needed to be improved, and how to go about making necessary changes. As it turns out, my solution wasn’t too far away. A few years ago when I worked at another municipality, we developed a strategic business plan and I was part of the team that built it. In that process, we learned about the Effective Util-ity Management (EUM) framework—a unique collaboration among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water and several leading pro-fessional associations, including AWWA and WEF. What I recalled most was how the EUM framework helped us confirm top priorities and then provided prac-tical tools to help us track and report progress that was being made. Getting strategic The next piece to fall in place was the BSD Board of Directors. Turns out that all our Board members were familiar with plan-ning from their various careers in educa-tion, government, real estate, and other businesses. Further, they liked the idea of a strategic plan, which identified both the mission and vision of the organization, articulated top priorities and goals, and followed a set plan to implement pro-grams and processes to achieve the goals. Sounds great, right? The reality was the new management team had no time to start a strategic plan from scratch, but it also couldn’t afford not to do it. We’re pretty smart folks, but we don’t do this The Boxelder Team, March 2017 (left to right): Molly Janzen, Jim Ginley, Barbie Lopez, Noah Allison, Karen Reynolds, Brenda Price, Sue Lowe, Heidi Jensen, Ryan LaFave, Jessica Shoup, Tom Simpkins, Justin Bodkins, Craig Hibbard, Dave Lewis, Ryan Kiefer, and Tony Lansford.
RMW - May 2017
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