Cost to attend workshops worth every penny, commissioner says

At Monday’s public meeting, Citizen Report spoke with commissioners about the county’s connection to Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) and to get an account of take-aways from their attendance at the annual CCI summer conference held in Keystone, CO, last week.

During the discussion, Commissioner Suppes strongly criticized Citizen Report for a post on its Facebook group page that, in his mind, implied the taxpayer cost to attend the summer event was $25,000. Citizen Report countered that the post clearly mentioned three trips and was an extrapolation based on known costs and included staff and commissioner time as well as the cost of membership to CCI. A detailed accounting provided by Administrator LeValley later revealed the cost to participate in CCI is $27,205 per year. Download the full accounting. In later emails, Suppes justified the cost saying, “… the information available at these conferences and what is used to help our County, I think it is worth every penny.”

Commission Roeber, a member of the CCI Board of Directors, explained how the organization acts to present member-voted initiatives and bills to the Colorado General Assembly, providing a single, united voice for a large majority of Colorado county commissioners. “Denver and Boulder counties are not members of CCI because they have hired their own lobbyists,” Commissioner Roeber adds.

Commissioner Atchley described CCI as a “highly valuable resource” given the statewide networking and educational opportunities the organization provides public servants at the commissioner and director level. He further praised CCI’s connection with the National Association of Counties, which gives legislative voice to county commissioners on a national level.

During opening session of the three-day event, Karn Stiegelmeir, Chair of the CCI board and a Summit County commissioner, spoke about new methods to engage the public in positive and constructive ways. She described how to create an open, factual discussion between neighbors that goes beyond the “old town hall model.” At Monday’s Commissioner meeting, Commissioner Roeber told Citizen Report that the board was thinking about ways to improve communication but added “it takes both sides to see other points of view.”

An important legislative topic at the Keystone meeting revolved around transportation funding. Colorado Transportation Commissioner, Ed Peterson, and others talked about how the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is prioritizing projects under State Bill 267 and what other ballot measures are in the works. Commissioner Roeber told Citizen Report that transportation is high on his agenda where legislative issues are concerned.

Pictured: Keystone Conference Center