DENVER - County officials turned out in force Tuesday to help kill a bill that would have put county commissioners in
charge of their salaries.
The Colorado Constitution gives the Legislature the power to set salaries for county elected officials - commissioners,clerks, sheriffs, coroners, surveyors and assessors.
That has always frustrated House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville.
We have no idea what their budgets look like, whether they can afford it, whether their constituents want it,"
Montezuma County commissioners asked the Legislature last year to raise county salaries after the next election, and
the Legislature obliged. Several counties have done the same thing in recent years, and the Legislature almost always
says yes. The only recent exception was this year, when the Senate declined to raise salaries for Mineral County.
Weissmann said the system lets county officials punt" to the Legislature to issue pay raises, while the local
officials can tell voters that their pay is out of their control. La Plata County commissioners make $72,500 a
Weissmann's House Concurrent Resolution 1001 would have asked voters to give the power to county commissioners. The
House Local Government Committee killed it Tuesday on a 7-4 vote.
Officials from the state associations for county coroners, clerks, assessors and sheriffs testified that they like the
system the way it is.
Otherwise, county commissioners could use paychecks to influence other elected officials, said Arapahoe County Clerk
We run the elections. We must have the appearance of being independent," said Doty, who was speaking for the Colorado
County Clerks Association.
El Paso County Treasurer Sandra Damron said that if county commissioners set local salaries, a commission candidate
might campaign on reducing salaries, which would deter qualified people from running for office.
Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, said the people should have the right to elect a candidate who promised to slash
Damron said that even if it were the will of the people to cut salaries, it might not be in the best interest of the
The bill is now dead for the year. Weissmann is term-limited and will not return next year.