Aspen Citizens Academy debuts this fall

Staff report

The city of Aspen is debuting a new citizen education and engagement program this fall called the Aspen Citizens Academy. The academy will give the public the opportunity to get a more intimate look at local government, including its policies, staff and operations.

“We noticed through various interactions with citizens at open houses and task force meetings, for example, that people often had the same questions,” Assistant City Manager Barry Crook said. “Often the themes were around how we budget, the difference between resolutions and ordinances, the number of departments we have, where tax dollars go. The truth is, local civics classes are few and far between these days. We want to cultivate an engaged and informed citizenry and found the creation of this program to be an ideal solution.”

The Academy is organized into 10 sessions that will run from Sept. 21 through January. Sessions will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. twice a month at the Pitkin County Library and will end with a graduation celebration.

Each session will be facilitated and moderated and will include several guest speakers from various city departments.

Topics for the sessions include city services, government structure, leadership philosophy, record laws, intergovernmental relations, council goals, citizen engagement, financing Aspen, land use, community policing, affordable housing and in-depth looks at such departments as utilities, parks, water, street and transportation.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and live in the Roaring Fork Valley. Aspen residents will be given preference over those living outside city limits.

Applications are being accepted through Aug. 15. If accepted, the admission fee to participate is $59. Sign up at or contact Michelle Holder at 970-429-2756 or