County Update: Partnerships and best practices key to effective government

Tim Corrigan
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Just this past week, my fellow commissioners Beth Melton and Tim Redmond joined me in Vail for the Colorado for the Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) annual summer conference.

CCI is our statewide membership association, offering assistance to county commissioners from across Colorado and encouraging us to work together on common issues. CCI focuses on information, education and representation at the state legislature, as well as facilitating communication with federal agencies and our congressional delegation.

Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan

This was our first opportunity to meet in person with our colleagues from around the state in the 15 months since the beginning of the pandemic. While we were able to meet and collaborate virtually during the pandemic, there is no replacing in-person communication and face-to-face conversations.

Every county commissioner from across the state has been consumed with the day-to-day issues of dealing with the pandemic, and we are all catching up with the other very important challenges counties face. Sharing best practices, successes and failures is invaluable to how we approach our work here in Routt County.

We were honored to have Gov. Jared Polis and Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper each address attendees (virtually) with updates on initiatives and legislative priorities. Bennet and Hickenlooper were gracious enough to take the time to answer questions, even the hard ones, from commissioners who are not afraid to criticize actions they disagree with.

It was refreshing to participate in an honest exchange of ideas with our representatives in Washington, D.C. In addition, high level representatives of the senators attended in person to provide detailed information about introduced bills and listen to specific concerns and needs of counties.

Over the two and a half days of the conference, we had ample opportunities to learn about serious issues facing counties.

We attended multiple sessions including: Short-Term Rentals Workshop; Electronic Filing of Documents and the Modernization of Government; Colorado’s Division of Aeronautics Helping Support Local Airports; Creating Inclusive and Equitable Organizations; Opioid Litigation and Funding Update; Detailed Overview of the American Rescue Plan; and Allowable Expenses. We received vital information on how best to access newly available state stimulus funds.

Our newly elected commissioner, Redmond, attended a special New Commissioner Roundtable with CCI Leadership.

We ended the conference by meeting with our CCI Western District peers from Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Ouray, Rio Blanco, San Juan and San Miguel counties. There, we received in-depth updates from high-level officials representing the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, focusing on public lands issues of forest health, oil and gas leasing, recreation, renewable energy and wildfire mitigation.

Mike Morgan, executive director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, outlined new strategies they will use to better assist counties in fighting wildfires and how the state can minimize financial impacts.

Most importantly, the informal interactions with commissioners from around the state were beneficial to all of us. We learned so much from our peers, whether they represent rural or urban, liberal or conservative, resort or agricultural constituencies.

In this setting, we have always been able to set aside partisan differences and work together to identify common needs and goals, and create relationships with each other and our partners at the state and federal levels to benefit our communities.

I look forward in the coming year to continue these collaborations as we grapple with issues of affordable housing, early childhood education, transportation and how best to conserve our open spaces and public lands. I know I can depend upon my friends at CCI to support us as we move into the future.

Tim Corrigan is the president of the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

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