Stephen D. Daniels, new Chair of the Mesa County Board of Public Health, violated Colorado Title 25 by giving control over the health department’s budget to the elected county commissioners. No provision in the state public health law permits that.
When the Mesa County Commissioners had the Board of Health (BOH) sign their new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), the commissioners, County Attorney Todd Starr and all 7 members of the new BOH all either knowingly or unknowingly violated Colorado Revised Statute Title 25, Article 1, Part 5(k).
Title 25 of the Colorado Code (pdf), the Public Health Act of 2008, restructured public health throughout the state and spells out all of the rights, responsibilities and duties of county Boards of Health and health departments.
Article 1, Part 5(k) of the Act, titled “County or District Boards of Public Health,” (pdf) gives Boards of Health, and only Boards of Health, the right to accept, control and administer all state and federal money, as well as any other property and services health departments get. That includes unrestricted funds health departments get from any source. Only Boards of Health can enter into agreements regarding such money or assistance, and only Boards of Health can decide how to use these funds to advance public health in the county.
Title 25 contains no provision that gives elected county commissioners the right to any control over a health department’s budget, funding or grants, yet that’s what Commissioners Janet Rowland, Cody Davis and Bobbie Daniel have done with their new IGA, which handed the commissioners control over the health department’s budget, and which even controls what BOH members are allowed to discuss at their own meetings.
Section 5(k) of Article I of Title 25 says,
“5. In addition to all other powers and duties conferred and imposed upon a county board of health… a county board of health…shall have and exercise the following specific powers and duties:
Colorado Code 25-1-508 (2022), Section 5 (k), gives sole power to the Board of Health to receive, use, disburse all moneys allotted to the public health department for public health functions, and to enter into agreements to receive such funds. The law does not give any of this power to county commissioners. Commissioners have illicitly seized this power.
Commissioner Janet Rowland, in her 2020 campaign video titled “Transparency” in which Rowland says, “I believe transparency in government is absolutely critical…I believe that you, the taxpayer, should know what your government is up to…” She and the other county commissioners just coerced the new Board of Health into signing a new intergovernmental agreement that violates Title 25, Article 1, Section 5(k) of the state public health law.
That’s a powerful statute and the Board of Health is either unaware of it, or intentionally chose to violate it.
Either all three Mesa County Commissioners, the county attorney and all seven Board of Health members are unaware of this provision in the state public health law, or they all intentionally violated it.
County residents deserve county commissioners and a Board of Heath that at the very least will abide by the law.
So far, that’s not what we’ve gotten.