Papers

The Colorado Hospital Provider Fee is a mechanism to attempt to level the playing field so that hospitals can leverage Federal Medicaid expansion monies on a dollar for dollar basis, whether a small or large hospital. However, trouble brewed when the fee structure- which was paid into the state’s General Revenue fund- triggered TABOR, which meant that additional monies over statutory budget increases spelled automatic tax refunds to Coloradans. In order to avoid automatic tax refunds- most of which are in the $10-40 dollar ranger per taxpayer- the state decided to create an Enterprise Fund into which the provider fee was paid, which didn’t trigger the General Fund tax refunds. I wrote this paper in the midst of the issue, because I was interested in how the state would also handle education funding, as the only way counties have to deal with the TABOR situation is to do mil levy over-rides on property tax- to my mind, a regressive way to fund education. As an aside, you will learn a little about the founder of TABOR- who wasn’t really known at the time of founding- and you will learn that marijuana money doesn’t solve all infrastructure problems. CDOT gets around TABOR triggers by creating private-public partnerships with road contractors, who recoup their costs through toll booth revenues. There’s also a handy little “Is it an Enterprise Fund or Not” flow chart developed by the good folks who keep the policy analysis cranking at the Colorado State Legislature. In 2017, both the provider fee and the Enterprise Fund mechanism were ruled to not violate TABOR.

My thoughts on this problem have changed some since writing this paper, but it’s interesting in terms of learning about the same problems in other parts of the country. My suggestion to towns looking to hire a manager are: do not hire a headhunter or a consultant, Google your candidates, and once you hire one, let her or him do the job without political interference.

Colorado has a mandatory arrest law in the case of a DV call. It sounds like a good idea, but complications can arise because responding officers are human beings and a judgment call has to be made in order to make the arrest. Sometimes, everyone goes to jail, sometimes, no one, sometimes, the wrong people. The state runs on a more county-wide basis than Eastern states do, which can sometimes mean better efficiency and at other times, more limited resources. It is possible to call 911 in rural Colorado and have no one show up for a long time. Colorado is an open carry state, as well as allowing concealed carry permits. There’s also a mechanism to be released from jail on a personal recognizance, or PR bond. A victim can spend weeks trying to get a perpetrator arrested and find some peace of mind, only to discover that the perpetrator’s friend showed up and posted bail on recognizance- which is free.

I wrote this one when I was town manager in Limestone, Maine, and I was considering not signing the Spectrum/Time Warner Cable franchise contract because of their lack of service to most of the town’s residents. I never did sign it – someone must have, but it wasn’t me.