Douglas County commissioners plan to meet about future with Tri-County

Portions of the meeting will be open to the public

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Douglas County commissioners will meet in an executive session Monday, Oct. 12 to discuss a new proposal for moving forward with Tri-County Health Department.

The proposal, from the Tri-County board of health’s bylaw subcommittee, is a suggested “bylaw amendment,” according to a county memo about the meeting. It will “potentially address Douglas County’s concerns in the shorter term,” according to the memo.

“The commissioners’ stated desire has been to have better local control over the Board of Health decisions that substantially impact Douglas County,” according to the memo. “TCHD has stated that they will only implement the bylaw change if Douglas County agrees to rescind or adjust its notice to a later date.”

The commissioners voted to leave Tri-County Health Department July 9, one day after the board of health voted to implement a mask mandate for Douglas County. The next day, the county sent a formal notice to Tri-County stating that the county would be separating from the health department in a year.

Since announcing their departure from the health department, commissioners have stated that their reasoning for leaving was not because they opposed residents wearing masks.

“The decision for the county to withdraw from Tri-County Health was based on our need for governance and policy-making autonomy,” commissioner Lora Thomas said in an interview in August.

After sending the new bylaw proposal, Tri-County requested that the board of commissioners respond, according to the memo. Executive sessions, which are not open to the public, are permitted in specific situations, including times in which the board wishes to receive legal counsel. No formal decisions are allowed to be made during these private meetings.

The executive session, set for 2 p.m. Monday, will have public portions of the meeting both before and after the private meeting. In the meeting, the board will discuss “the legal implications of that recommendation and decision,” according to the memo.

After discussing the proposal privately with their legal counsel, the board will return to the public and can choose from a variety of potential actions, including voting to accept the proposal, rejecting it, directing staff to do additional research or deciding to not to do anything.

The board is required to take a public vote to enter the executive session. They must also cite the legal reason for entering the private meeting, which in this case is a conversation with the county attorney.

Douglas County’s government, after being asked by Colorado Community Media, recently created a new way for residents to join the public portions of the meeting virtually. A link to join the public portions of the meeting will be available at douglas.co.us/commissioners-weekly-schedule.

Regardless of how the commissioners choose to proceed, the health department will continue providing services to Douglas County residents until at least July 11, 2021. 

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