Posted by Harry Mueller
On May 15, RCFC member Bill West moderated a discussion by the Larimer County Commissioners (John Kefalas, Tom Donnelly, and Steve Johnson) on a number of county government issues. 
What is the level of civility in county government? 
Kefalas: He gets great support in his learning curve as the newest member of the Commission.
Donnelly: There is no aisle to cross; they work together to decide on pragmatic choices. 
Johnson: The members don’t have to agree but do respect the diversity & differences of opinion.  Always do what is right. 
How are those attitudes filtering down to the departments in county government?
Johnson: The current strategic plan emphasizes collaboration between departments as well as collaboration with the community. 
Donnelly: They are also emphasizing collaboration between counties in both government and work force.  This recognizes that 50% of Fort Collins workers and 75% of Loveland workers leave town to work every day. 
What about the recently released property valuations and the computer program used? 
Donnelly: The commissioners hire the department heads and give them budgets, from which the heads do their business.  Valuation is different from tax assessed.  Various tax credits so may provide some relief for those with increased valuations. 
Johnson: The county must have valuations for some 150,000 properties plus equipment; valuations must rely on computer programs that follow State guidelines.  Of taxes collected, 75% goes elsewhere (e.g., the State); county wide, there has been a 17% rise in valuations; revenue is up 12.8% (approximately 6% per year). 
Kefalas: There have been some 5500 protests to date and there is still time to lodge a protest.  For many seniors (55+), there is the possibility of a senior discount.  Although valuations may be up, the actual mil levy applied will be adjusted in November to provide the income needed. 
What is the status of the Thornton pipeline issue? 
Kefalas: The issue is in litigation so comments must be limited. 
Johnson: Courts have historically shown deference to local governments. 
Donnelly: The county actively participates in a number of regional bodies. 
Kefalas: There is a current effort to update the master plan for watershed and natural resources and comments may be submitted to the end of May. 
What is happening with the money recently approved for a Mental Health Facility? 
Johnson: The $16 – 17 million per year will mostly be used initially to build a debt-free facility between Fort Collins and Loveland to be run by a provider (with a diverse advising group) who is expected to participate in the design.  Initially, some $1 million will be used to address suicide prevention ($400K), substance abuse ($400K), public education ($100K), and small grants ($100K).