LET'S HAVE FIVE COMMISSIONERS IN DOUGLAS COUNTY

Colorado laws were designed and clearly expect counties to choose to have five commissioners when they reached the appropriate size. ("In each county having a population of seventy thousand [70,000] or more, the board of county commissioners many consist of either three members...or five members...." C.R.S 1-4-205(3)(a)) Under the laws for political parties, it says that when a county has five commissioners, the county party must form district committees to nominate the county commissioners (C.R.S. 1-3-103(1)(b)(II) - Party committees).

When there are only three commissioners, a county may elect commissioners in only one of two ways. In either case, each commissioner must live within one of the districts and then is either elected by the district, or elected by the whole county. When there are five commissioners, there are five methods for electing commissioners. (See C.R.S. 30-10-306.5 and 30-10-306.7)

There is also an entire section of laws dedicated to explaining how a county may increase the number of commissioners from three to five outside of becoming a home-rule county. One method simply allows the existing three commissioners to put the question on the ballot. The other method allows citizens to gather signatures in order to put the question on the ballot. Approximately 18,000 signatures are required (C.R.S. 30-10-306.5).

ASSUMPTIONS:

1) “Five commissioners will increase financial burden of residents by incurring additional administration costs from $500,000 to $1 million dollars."

FAQs: No additional staff is required to support two new commissioners. No new office space is required. A commissioner's salary is $87,300 with a benefits package of $18,000, plus office supplies. The entire budget for the three-member DC BOCC is about $407,757. The cost of two additional commissioners would range from about $210,600 to $271,838 (at most) or no more than $1 per resident per year.

FAQs: There is actually no way for the County to increase taxes to add any kind of personnel to the the county payroll whether that new staff be in maintenance or administration. Income is limited to property tax assessments, which are controlled by property values, and sales tax income, where increases and decreases are controlled by a vote of the people. Having five commissioners on the payroll is simply a budget allocation change. In normal economic times, the County has more than enough income to afford five commissioners; in lean years, other reductions in staff would allow the county to easily retain five commissioners.

2) “Five commissioners will lead to financially wasteful pork barrel projects as commissioners seek favor with districts that elected them.”

FAQs: A county commissioner has no opportunity to fund “pork barrel projects.” The budget for the county is allocated to department directors. Commissioners are not allocated any discretionary dollars with which to fund their own personal projects. There are more issues with commissioners approving projects submitted by developers who have contributed large sums to their campaigns. (Currently, there are no contribution limits for county commissioners. A developer can make whatever personal contribution to a commissioner’s campaign that they like.)

3) “Five commissioners would lead to factionalism and disunity with commissioners acting to benefit their districts over the good of the entire county thereby destroying what has been a reasonable system of cooperative governance.”

FAQs: Any time you have a representative (Republican) form of government made up of two or more people you risk creating a diverse mixture of experience, motivation, values and interests. This is the purpose of representational government.

FAQs: After the five commissioner districts are approved, the new districts can be created in such a way that all factions of the county are represented in all districts thus keeping the interest of each commissioner diversified while providing better representative government for the whole county.

4) “Five commissioner districts will dilute the strength of the Douglas County Republican Party, thereby making it much more likely that a Democrat will be elected County Commissioner.”

FAQs: If the Republican philosophy is to have only one voice in government, this might be a legitimate concern.

5) “Adding more commissioners is ‘growing government’.”

FAQs: Increasing individual representation in government to the extent that the law allows is typically not what “growing government” means. “Growing government” refers to increasing spending on old programs and creating new programs or adding more laws that restrict individual freedoms. Increasing representatives to the extent of the law, enabling a more responsive government, does not conflict with “small government” values.

6) “Arapahoe has problems because they went to five commissioners.”

FAQs: Initially, there were some political conflicts in Arapahoe, but those were resolved quickly and now Arapahoe has a very efficient five-member commission. Commissioners in El Paso county say that they don't know how large 3-Commissioner counties get all the work done.

Arapahoe, El Paso, Weld, and Pitkin Counties all have five commissioners. I think that the only reason other counties have not gone to five commissioners is that the people in the county simply don’t know that the Colorado Constitution allows and even expects them to have five.