Government & Politics  March 26, 2019

Linda Hoffmann, Larimer County

2019 Women of Distinction - Government, Energy, Utilities

When you manage a county of nearly 344,000 city, town and rural residents, there is no such thing as a typical day. For Linda Hoffmann, county manager for Larimer County, every day brings something new and unexpected because county government is large, diverse and, frankly, a moving target.

Hoffmann is this year’s Women of Distinction honoree in the government, energy and utilities category. She will receive the recognition at the BizWest Women of Distinction breakfast on April 2, 7:30 a.m., at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, Loveland.

Hoffmann works directly with the county commissioners to establish policy, ensure efficient government and improve residents’ quality of life. She prepares the annual recommended budget that is publicly reviewed and adopted with minor adjustments. This year’s budget totals $542 million.

Her daily constants are tending to the overall culture of the organization according to its guiding principles, making sure the county’s strategic plan, staff development and financial-resource development are successful, and carrying out the commissioners’ vision for the community.

The Kansas State University graduate directed Larimer County’s Rural Land Use Center and then its Planning and Building Services Division before assuming her current role in May 2012. Ten days after she stepped into that position, the High Park Fire blazed.

“That fire stretched on for weeks, and once the flames died down we realized we did not have a full emergency program as it should be: preparation, response, recovery and mitigation,” Hoffmann said. “We rated strong in response, but not as much in the other areas.”

At that time, emergencies fell under the sheriff’s office, not the county manager’s purview. Response to the fire was spot on, but the other three areas needed improvement.

Working with the sheriff’s office and commissioners, Hoffmann was in the process of moving the responsibilities of preparation, recovery and mitigation under her umbrella when the rains fell that triggered the 2013 flood. She and her team worked with the state to revise, clarify and strengthen laws regarding the state’s role in emergency management.

Now, Larimer County has one of the strongest emergency management programs in the nation, Hoffmann said, and has been recognized internationally as well.

Besides hell and high water, she faced other challenges as well.

“When I came into this role in 2012, the county had not done a strategic plan in many years,” she said. “Having focus on the big things you’re trying to accomplish really helps to set vision for your staff, helps to build partnership in the community and also helps make the best use of your available funds. We’re now in our second five-year cycle of the strategic plan.”

Additionally, she was faced with a potential $10 million budget shortfall. The sales tax that was supposed to pay for jail operations was due to expire, and two attempts at voter approval were unsuccessful but one last attempt was approved.

Regional growth is a strong focus for the future, she said, adding that key objectives are physical infrastructure, programs and services and a government that needs to get better, not just bigger. Hoffmann is ready to take it on.


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