County commissioners change the way they do business

Posted 2/10/09

Not only is the Elbert Board of County Commissioners keeping an eye on all county funds, but a whole new public hearing process is in effect and is …

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County commissioners change the way they do business


Not only is the Elbert Board of County Commissioners keeping an eye on all county funds, but a whole new public hearing process is in effect and is sure to raise some eyebrows — but in a good way.

The commissioner board has made some significant changes to do business more efficiently and openly for the public and also county elected officials and county department heads.

With two new faces, the board not only looks different, but also operates differently.

The first major and obvious change is the switch to only two monthly commissioner meetings instead of four. Beginning March 1, meetings will be the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and will only be conducted in the morning unless more time is needed in the afternoon to finish business.

If an emergency meeting is needed outside of the two monthly meetings, it will be published and the public will be given notice of the meeting.

Commissioner John Shipper said the change is an effort to conduct business more efficiently.

“I don’t see the point in having a meeting in the morning for 20 minutes and a meeting in the afternoon for 20 minutes,” he said.

The agenda for the commissioner meetings has also changed compared to the previous administration.

Every meeting will have a specific time for elected officials and department heads to voice any comment regarding upcoming events, announcements or concerns in the county. The public will also have a specific time to voice any comments regarding county business during the meetings.

“As far as I’m concerned anybody that wants to stand up at the commissioner meetings during public comment and make a comment for three minutes or less, we would welcome that,” Shipper said.

Even the overall mood during the commissioner meetings has changed. Not only can people approach the commissioners during the meeting at the podium, but they are welcome and encouraged to speak to the commissioners off the record.

Chairman of the board Hope Goetz said she and her fellow commissioners do not take themselves too seriously during meetings and work together as a team when making decisions.

“We don’t consider ourselves in charge of the other two people,” she said. “We are openly communicating and openly disagreeing sometimes, but we are all equal and we have an opinion about our thoughts and it’s a totally different board than before.”

Some of the changes made in the meetings came after visiting four other counties and observing how their meetings were conducted. The commissioners traveled to Adams County, Arapahoe County, Douglas County and El Paso County. Commissioner Del Schwab said they picked pieces out of each style of meeting to bring back to Elbert County.

One of the aspects Schwab said he strongly supports in other counties is the open dialog between the commissioners which he said allows them to have a comfort zone.

“The open dialog is not only good for the public but it’s also good for the commissioners to understand where the other commissioner is coming from,” he said.

Goetz said she was pleased to bring back new ideas she learned from other counties. She said there are so many things she was not aware of, and with the help of her fellow colleagues, the public will be seeing some major improvements in the board.

“The possibilities are endless on the improvements and we are just getting started,” she said.

Another change the board has made is conducting study sessions on all major projects in the county. The session will allow the board to ask any and all questions about the project to any department that will be affected by the project and become more educated on the project before making a final decision.

Schwab said the board is utilizing all resources available before deciding on projects.

“The board is the three decision makers and we can make the decisions without any other input, but we don’t want to,” Schwab said. “I think that has happened in past governments and that is certainly not what we want to do.”


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