County to ask residents about Jeffco5

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Jefferson County commissioners will be dialing out to Jeffco residents to get their stance on the Jeffco 5 initiative, along with other topics this fall, during a town hall phone conference.

Residents however will not be able to dial in during the conference.

The issue of receiving public feedback or to move forward on a decision was long debated during the commissioner’s staff briefing on Aug. 27.

An official date for the town hall phone conference has not been scheduled but should take place no later than early October, according to Kathryn Heider, PIO for the board of county commissioners.

The Jeffco 5 initiative seeks to increase the number of county commissioners from three to five, with a measure placed on the ballot for 2014.

If passed, Jeffco would see a redistricting in 2015, with county commissioners running for election in 2016, and officially functioning as a five member board in 2017.

Operating costs and capital costs totals anywhere from $725,000 to $750,000, according to county administrator Ralph Schell who recommended that commissioners do not go forward with the initiative due to budget constraints and the budgets unpredictability for the year 2017 when the costs are implemented.

District 2 commissioner Tighe requested public opinion on the matter before the commissioners make their decision.

The deadline for county commissioners to refer the initiative on the ballot is July 2014, although commissioners would like to make a decision long before next summer.

“It’s important to have a dialogue with the citizens,” Tighe said.

“With the amount of interest we’ve seen in it, I would like to get more input.”

Commissioner Tighe advocated for public hearing along with a telephone town hall conference in order to gather public input.

“I think it’s a debate that the county should have, do the people of the county want to have smaller districts and more representation, are they willing to pay for that?” Tighe said.

“Those are facts that I don’t feel I have to make a decision on.”

“Even in hearings, if we have a full group of people and that whole hearing room is filled with people ... that does not make the decision on what maybe the outcome is,” Commissioner Griffin said.

“Each commissioner votes the way they feel is for the future, they will take into consideration what has been said.”

As staff coordinates a date for the dial out telephone town hall, the members of Jeffco 5 were not pleased with the outcome of the discussion, specifically, a denial for a public forum in which residents can show up and voice their concerns to the commissioners.

“I was just floored,” said Jeffco 5 member Bernie McDowell.

“Jefferson county voters are being denied even the ability to make this decision. They should not have the right to keep this from being heard,” McDowell said.

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