Teller County Tea Party and Commissioners Join Forces – Bob Volpe

About 25 members of the Teller County Tea Party recently joined forces with the county commissioners in discussing issues of mutual concern facing the region and state.

The forum was held at Denny’s restaurant in Woodland. Park on Sept. 6.

First to speak was Tea Party member, Mark Ritter. After a couple of cracks about Colin Kapernik, and a few shots at Obamacare, the Tea Party’s favorite whipping boy, Ritter went on a long narrative about the negative consequences the state will face if Amendment 69 passes. This measure calls for major public health care enhancements, but it could result in significant tax increases, according to reports.

Ritter covered all the same talking points residents have probably seen and heard about on the TV commercials sponsored by the anti-69 group, Coloradans for Colorado. Not satisfied to take the word of attendees that they would vote against Amenment 69, Ritter handed out a pledge he wanted them to sign, vowing to vote against the issue and asking for money. This Amendment 69 issue has been heavily opposed by many Republican lawmakers.

Next at bat was Teller County Commissioner Dave Paul.

Despite having a microphone and PA system Paul spoke so softly he was nearly inaudible. That didn’t stop him from attacking what he considers the most dangerous issue facing Teller County: “Socialist progressives creeping up the pass from Colorado Springs.”

After his attack on the Democratic agenda, Paul turned his ire to Woodland Park politics, attacking city council for the pool, Memorial Park, and maintenance facility spending. He blasted the city for their “growing bureaucracy” and spending so much money. He went on to state the city is approaching $25 million in debt.

Paul’s last attack was a short complaint about early voting. “I’m against it. It should only be on the Saturday before Tuesday’s election.”

Teller County Commissioner Mark Dettenrieder was next to speak.

Dettenrieder spoke about the responsibilities of county government. He explained that the county must account for all money collected and spent and covered all the agencies in the county that fall under the budget for their funding.

He also told the crowd the commissioner’s job also entails “selling”. He explained, “The billions of dollars collected from gaming are up for grabs by all the state’s county governments.” As a commissioners for Teller County, they are responsible for getting as much of the gaming money pot as they can. He said, “Getting that money back is part of my job.”

Last to speak, Commissioner Norm Steen stated that the county employs 230 people at a cost of $28.1 million. He explained county employees plow and grade the roads and provide services that everyone wants.

Steen then said, “The county commissioners meet on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. He invited everyone to come to the meetings to stay informed on issues facing the county.

In a stab at a recent issue commissioners dealt with, Steen said, “If you have a really, really noisy neighbor that constantly has large gatherings, the county is there to deal with it. We don’t go out looking for trouble. It just comes to us.”

He continued, “One of the biggest things we deal with is land use. Teller County is zoned. We have residential, commercial, agriculture zones. Sometimes issues come up and someone asks for a ‘Special Use Permit’ asking for a variance from established zoning.”

“If someone wants a permit to have weddings every weekend with 500 people in a residential zoned area, well that raises questions.” he said.

Steen continued explaining the role of county government and how individuals are welcome to participate in the process. He also mentioned the hot subject of “property values and taxes, encouraging residents to take their case before the commissioners, if they aren’t happy with the figures they receive. “ If you think your property is worth less than it was appraised for, you can protest that to the board of commissioners,” explained Steen

A major principle of tea party politics is individual freedom. Steen may have poked at that basic principle when he said, “You certainly have rights in Teller County, but your rights end when you infringe on someone else’s rights.”