At the meeting of the new Mesa County Board of Public Health (BOH) scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, September 11, 2023, the County Commissioners hope to impose a new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) (pdf, page 10) on the Board of Health that will tie the BOH tightly to most County policies and procedures eliminate the BOH’s ability to control their own meeting agendas, and allow the Commissioners block discussion of any subject the commissioners don’t like.
An item on tomorrow’s meeting agenda is “Adoption of Revised Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).”
Sounds like a wonky, boring agenda item, but it’s really super-important since it wipes out the political independence of the Mesa County BOH.
The Commissioners, who have claimed they want to be “transparent,” made this newly-proposed IGA very hard to find.
If you click on “Adoption of Revised Intergovernmental Agreement” in the agenda, it takes you back to the same page you’re already on. If you click the link just below that, that says “Revised IGA,” (which you would think would take you to the text of that proposed Revised IGA), that, too, takes you right back to the same agenda page you’re already looking at.
The only way to get to the new IGA is to click on “Agenda Packet,” at the upper left corner of the BOH agenda page and then download the packet.
Then start scrolling.
It’s 58 pages long. Page 10 of the Packet says at the top, “INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT TO ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY AND FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.”
After you read it, you’ll see why the commissioners made it so hard to find.
The new IGA totally puts the thumb-screws on the new Board of Public Health.
The new IGA eliminates the BOH’s independence from the County Commissioners and ties the Health Department more tightly to virtually every Mesa County governmental policy and procedure. It also demands all BOH actions have clear “deliverables.” But you can’t put numbers on some public health improvements, like better quality of life and better nutritional status of county residents, reduced loneliness or anxiety for residents or increased enjoyment of outdoor activities. But the commissioners are demanding things that can only be measured in hard numbers, so say goodbye to any programs or collaborations with other entities that could tangentially improve County residents’ public health and well being in the aforementioned ways.
The new IGA also imposes extremely tight control on what Board of Health members can and can’t discuss at their own meetings:
Item #7 of the new IGA imposes a new and extremely cumbersome process on the BOH just to put items on agendas for their own meetings.
Item #7 says:
“…MCPH agendas shall be approved, denied or modified in the same manner as any similar item on the BOCC’s agenda except it shall follow a multi-step process as follows:
a. Step One: MCPH shall upload an agenda item into the County document management or agenda system where it shall undergo review from legal, finance and risk management before being approved to be placed on either a MCBOH or a BOCC agenda.
b. Step Two: Once an item has cleared step one, such that it now appears first on a MCBOH agenda and then on a BOCC agenda, it will be reviewed by the MCBOH for the following criteria:
i. Is the purpose of the proposed agenda item in alignment with the mission and purposes of MCPH,
ii. Is it a good business deal for MCPH (This analysis may include but not be limited to whether the contract has clear deliverables, how it will be reported on and recorded as well as the terms and conditions being undertaken.),
iii. The overall financial implications on MCPH including long- and short-term commitments; and,
iv. Any other item any member(s) of the MCBOH deem appropriate in their exercise of their best independent business judgment in favor of MCPH.
c. Step Three: If an agenda item is passed by the MCBOH requires BOCC authorization, it will then proceed to be reviewed by the BOCC for the following criteria:
i. Does it appear the proposed agenda item has to date complied with all Mesa County ordinances, resolutions, rules, policies, procedures and Administrator directives including but not limited to all budget, finance, procurement, capital project budgets and human resources policies and procedures,
ii. Are the proposed MCPH’s expenditures or obligations within the annual appropriation for MCPH; and,
iii. Will the proposed agenda item have any impact on Mesa County’s compliance with TABOR
d. Step Four: If approved by both boards the agenda item takes effect in accordance with the terms by which it was adopted, passed or moved. If the MCBOH declines to adopt or approve an item it may come back before the MCBOH in accordance with its own policies and practices but will not be heard by the BOCC until affirmative action by the MCBOH.
The Mesa County Board of Public Health is a volunteer board, but this new IGA aims to turn them into something more akin to a prison chain gang.