In two June meetings, the Montezuma County commissioners decided on the term limits issue, approved equipment purchases for the Sheriff’s Office, and discussed access to public lands.
Commissioners will not put a question on the 2019 ballot asking voters to extend commissioner term limits from two consecutive four-year terms to three consecutive four-year terms.
The commissioners initially supported the ballot question, and had a draft resolution drawn up, but wanted to mull it over more before giving it to the county clerk for the November election. They decided to drop the matter June 10 in a 3-0 vote.
During public comment, the community was divided on extending term limits.
Several residents said term limits were not needed because voters can remove candidates at the end of each term. Several others argued for term limits and against extending them, saying the limits promote an opportunity for a variety of candidates to gain elected positions.
Commissioner Jim Candelaria, in his first term, suggested putting the term limit extension question on the 2020 ballot to allow time for more education. Having it then would also avoid commissioners currently facing term limits from asking for a chance to run for a potential third term.
One motivation to extend term limits was to align the commissioner’s terms with other Montezuma County officials. Currently, the term-limits for assessor, clerk, treasurer and sheriff are three four-year terms.
Current term limits for commissioners are two four-year terms. The district attorney also is limited to two four-year terms.
District Attorney Will Furse expressed interest in asking voters to extend the DA’s term limits. Furse, who is term-limited in 2020, told The Journal he is no longer seeking the ballot question.
In other news the commission:
Approved Sheriff Steve Nowlin’s request to spend $122,000 on three 2019 Ford F-150 patrol pickup trucks, or two trucks and one Tahoe SUV. The new patrol vehicles will each cost about $35,000 and will be outfitted with several thousand dollars of law-enforcement equipment, emergency lights and communications. They replace older patrol vehicles, including two that were totaled in crashes. The vehicles will be paid for by $31,000 gained from a sheriff vehicle auction, $33,000 from insurance on the totaled patrol cars, and $57,000 from the sheriff’s budget.Approved Nowlin’s request to purchase a body scanner for the jail at a cost of $190,000. Nowlin said body scanners are needed to prevent contraband and drugs from being smuggled into the jail by new inmates. The measure will improve safety for inmates and jail staff, he said.Discussed improving public access to Bureau of Land Management lands. The commission heard from Tres Rios Field Manager Connie Clementson regarding negotiating non-motorized public access for the Summit Lake parcel and the Mesa Verde escarpment parcel.At the BLM parcel south of Summit Lake, the commissioners said county officials and a landowner are planning to meet to discuss potential pubic access across a narrow strip of private land.
If a deal can be reached, the BLM is willing to install a gravel parking lot and a gate on the BLM land adjacent to County roads N and 36.7. Use would be for hikers and horseback riders, and no trails would be built.
For the Mesa Verde escarpment, the county is considering creating public access and a parking lot on the county landfill property that is adjacent to the BLM land. If the county provided public access to the BLM fence boundary, the BLM said it could provide basic infrastructure such as an access gate and signs. Public use would be for hiking and horseback riding, and no trails would be built.