County and city move toward creating regional health board
December 3, 2014
Pitkin County and Aspen health officials moved a step closer to consolidating into one regional board of health Tuesday, with support coming from both the Aspen City Council and county commissioners during a joint work session.
Pitkin County's current system is unique in Colorado in the fact that there are two separate health organizations. Aspen is one of two municipalities in Colorado, including Denver, that acted on the option to establish themselves as a board of health.
Tuesday's direction would see Aspen's board of health discontinued in favor of establishing the Pitkin County commissioners as the sole board while adding two representatives to the five-member panel, one from Aspen and one from Snowmass Village. The city also would discontinue its public health agency and public health director.
Both county and city officials are expected to vote on an intergovernmental agreement at upcoming meetings. The county is tentatively scheduled to review the issue Dec. 17, while the city is expected to address it Jan. 12.
C.J. Oliver, Aspen's environmental health director and former public health director, has contended that the consolidated system would speed up response times in cases of natural disasters, clarify the blurred lines of accountability and responsibility and simplify direction of public health services.
County Commissioner George Newman said the move brings Aspen and Snowmass into the fold where they haven't had the opportunity to hear broader discussion before.
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"It's an opportunity to be better informed and be able to participate, in terms of addressing your specific needs for the citizens of Aspen (and Snowmass)," he said.