Re-elect Commissioner Casey Tighe On Nov. 8!
Jefferson County, District 2
March 31, 2016
Spring is a great time of the year. The sun climbs higher, the daylight hours grow longer, and temperatures get warmer. We also get big snowstorms that provide much needed moisture, but we know summer is not far away. We always look forward to the grass turning green and the trees flowering with color.
Lots of different things are going on in the county. We are excited about expanding the hours of operation in many of the Jeffco Libraries, and about Coors Technology expanding their operations and bringing more jobs to Jeffco. It is also good to see that the rate of foreclosures in Jeffco continues to drop as the economy improves.
However, challenges remain.
The county has been working with the Colorado’s congressional delegation on various federal related issues that impact county governments. Issues we have raised include:
Unfunded Mandates – Sometimes federal legislation will create new obligations for local jurisdictions but provide no resources to accomplish the tasks. For example, counties incur costs to provide medical care to most of the jail population. When someone is arrested, they often lose their eligibility for different federal programs such as Medicaid, or even benefits under some veterans programs. These people lose their benefits while they are in jail awaiting trial. So even though they have not been convicted of a crime, the county incurs significant medical costs for the pre-trial population because of federal regulations. We asked our federal delegation to support legislation that helps counties with the cost of providing this medical care.
Rural Broadband – Many areas of the country do not have access to high speed internet connections. With the changing economy, it is increasingly important that people have access to this technology to compete in business and education. Although most people in Jefferson County live in areas that have broadband available, there are still some areas in the county needing upgraded infrastructure. Staying current with new technology is becoming increasingly important as emergency response technology evolves. The 911 services are looking to add video components, texting, emailing, and other technologies to improve communications for first responders and citizens. Without building a complete fiber network and other infrastructure, rural areas will be left behind. Our congressional delegation was asked to support efforts to complete these build-outs.
Transportation – We thanked the Colorado delegation for its support of the recent transportation funding re-authorization. For the last several years, Jeffco has worked with other counties to support and encourage the federal re-authorization. With funding levels more stable, planning can occur and projects can be scheduled. However, funding for transportation remains a significant issue for Jeffco. We are challenged to maintain existing infrastructure as needs for new capacity become increasingly important. Jeffco road and bridge staff is doing a great job of getting the most out of every dollar; but as the county continues to grow, new improvements are necessary.
Speaking of transportation, I attended several presentations by CDOT concerning how advancements in technology are going to dramatically change our transportation system. Change is happening quickly, and we may all be surprised by its pace.
Integration of cell phones into how we use our transportation is already occurring. Your phone gives you step-by-step directions to your destination. Uber and Lyft are new business models that did not exist just a few years ago, and taxi companies are developing new applications in response. Distracted driving is the negative side of this.
Something very close to a “driverless” car could be coming to a road near you. The technology around autonomous vehicles is improving quickly and could change a lot of our assumptions around transportation. Some of the items discussed in the presentations include:
We have already started working on the 2017 budget. Priorities for next year include making sure the county is operating efficiently and effectively. As a board, we are going to meet during the next few weeks to discuss the vision and goals of county government to make sure the budget is in alignment with the vision and goals. Like the old business saying goes, “We want to make sure we are doing things right, and we are doing the right things.”
Meals on Wheels
Last week I was able to deliver meals to some people in south Jeffco with the TLC Meals on Wheels organization.I had a great time, and I was very impressed with the dedication of the staff and the volunteers.If you know someone that needs help with their meals or if you would like to volunteer, you can contact them at www.tlcmealsonwheels.org, or you can call them at (303) 798-7642.
Copyright © 2016 Casey Tighe, All rights reserved.
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