Once again our county commissioners have taken a journey down a path they did not have to travel. They have stated that they intend to constitute a new Board of Health to oversee the San Juan Basin Health Department, which has served La Plata and Archuleta counties quite well for decades. Their "stated" reason is that they needed to comply with Senate Bill 194, which, when written more than a year ago, declared, among other things, that: "each county should establish or be part of a local public health agency organized under a local board of health with a public health director and other staff necessary to provide public health services."
The word "or" is significant. All that the commissioners had to do was declare that they are, and have been for many years, a participant in the health department. For decades, each county has appointed one of its commissioners to serve on the Board of Health, to act in a liaison capacity for the county. SB 194 goes on to set out a procedure whereby there is one commissioner from each county appointed, by county resolution, to act as an "Appointments Committee."
After a great deal of public testimony, both counties passed such a resolution April 8. The legislators did not desire that this "Appointment Committee" create conflicts or otherwise upset the balance of the Board of Health by directing that: "Appointments shall be made to the district board so that no business or professional group or government entity shall constitute a majority of the district board."
Additionally, the Legislature directed that any vacancies on the district board be filled "by the appointment of a qualified person." Currently this is the case, but if the commissioners appoint themselves, as they have repeatedly stated they intend to do, I doubt that this requirement will be fulfilled.
Please attend the Wednesday commissioners meeting and voice your opinion.
Bud Deering, Durango