The chairman of the Montrose County Hospital Board may be uncertain whether a meeting with the county commissioners scheduled to begin Monday qualifies as an actual negotiation or simply a discussion, but we’re sure of one thing:
Having the two sides talk about their differences, and seek solutions to them, is far better than having dueling lawsuits and no communication between the two entities that are both stewards of Montrose County taxpayers’ money.
As always, we would prefer that the discussions be open to the public. Transparency is critical to preventing these sorts of problems. Because of the lawsuits, they may claim that pending legal issues are being discussed and therefore Colorado’s Open Meeting Law allows them to meet behind closed doors. But we remind them that any actual policy and decisions must be made in public.
The dispute involves control of the finances for the Montrose County Hospital, which is a public entity whose board members are appointed by the county commissioners.
The commissioners say the hospital board violated public meeting requirements when they approved the creation of a nonprofit group to run the medical facility. Hospital board members said the nonprofit was created in part because they feared the commissioners were going to grab the hospital’s financial assets to use for economic development incentives.
The controversy ignited because neither side was adequately communicating with the other. We hope the talks set for Monday remedy that problem.