Governance study committee seeks divergent input

The Grand County Change of Government Study Committee is looking for opinions.
Photo by Carter Pape

With most of the procedural questions answered, the rubber is about to hit the road for the Grand County Change of Government Study Committee – which is facing a tight deadline to recommend one of four possible alternatives for county government.

Here’s what they know so far: Ten of twelve Grand County Department heads who have been interviewed to date do not want option one: a three-person commission; nor do they want a second option: A commission with an elected manager vested with veto powers.

Members Bob Greenberg and Judy Carmichael recently held informal interviews with those department heads. Carmichael reported that all said they were mostly content working at the county and with the way the council functions.

Grand County Clerk/Auditor Chris Baird said at the county council’s April 16 meeting that if the committee hopes to get its recommendation on the 2019 ballot, it will have to submit it no later than 65 days prior to November’s general election.

The county will have to hold four public hearings after that, putting even more pressure on the committee – and that doesn’t include the estimated two weeks that County Attorney Christina Sloan will need to review the committee’s recommendation.

The committee wants the public to weigh in on the issue, and to that end members Carmichael, Marcy Till and Cricket Green are working on developing a survey – one that doesn’t ask leading questions or have built-in biases. Member Jeramy Day said the survey has to be “as effective as possible.”

In the meantime, the committee has discussed but not acted on retaining outside lawyers that would offer advice.

Members will seek different avenues to get the word out – radio, social media, print – with the goal of educating the public on what the four alternatives are rather than advocating for one option or another.

Resident Eve Tallman at the committee meeting held Friday, April 19, implored them not to choose option one, which calls for three commissioners who have control over legislative and executive functions – meaning elected officials would supervise departments in the absence of a professional manager or administrator.

The next meeting is May 10 at council chambers.

Here’s an abbreviated version of the four options the committee will choose from:

County Commission: This commission would hold both executive and legislative powers. It would have three members who are elected at large with staggered four-year terms.

Expanded County Commission: In this form, the county commission also has the authority to manage the county, make laws, set taxes, budgets and fees. There would be five to seven commissioners, elected at-large, who serve staggered four-year terms.

Elected executive/council: This form has an executive or mayor who has authority over the executive branch of government, including veto power over council legislation. The number of members, length of terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district would have to be decided.

Council/Manager: A person would be appointed to be county manager. She or he would serve at the pleasure of the council. That individual would run the executive branch while a council would handle legislation. As in the elected executive/council form, the number of members, length of terms, compensation and whether elections are at-large or by district would have to be decided.

Residents do not have to be registered voters to weigh in on the topic. Those who wish to can send an email to [email protected].