County seeks different venue for printing notices

In what they’re billing as an effort to save the county money, Mesa County commissioners are attempting to find a way around a state law that requires local governments to publish expenditures in the newspaper on a monthly basis.

Commissioners on Wednesday directed County Attorney Lyle Dechant and his staff to find out whether that information could instead be published online.

State law mandates that local governments print all expenditures monthly in newspapers “of a general circulation,” meaning newspapers that publish at least once a week, are intended for general publication and circulation and are sold for a fixed price.

The county currently publishes that information in The Palisade Tribune, but commissioners say they would like to discontinue that practice as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the county’s budget.

Finance Director Marcia Arnhold told commissioners that based on rate quotes she obtained from the newspapers, it would cost the county $1,035 a month to publish the county’s monthly expenditures in The Palisade Tribune and $1,793 a month in The Daily Sentinel.

A pair of bills that would have eliminated the requirement that counties publish public notices in the newspaper died in the state Legislature earlier this year.

Commissioner Craig Meis called the necessity of printing the county’s financial information in the newspaper “absolutely ridiculous” given the presence of the Internet.

“For me it’s not if, but when” governments begin placing information about expenditures on the Internet rather than in the newspaper, he said.

The board briefly discussed the possibility of violating the law, which would be a misdemeanor crime punishable by a $100 fine.

“If it’s a misdemeanor for doing the right thing, I’m all for that,” Commissioner Janet Rowland said.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, however, said the county should continue to follow the law while pursuing legislation to change it.

Dechant told commissioners that any effort to skirt the law likely would meet opposition from the Colorado Press Association, a legal fight he estimated could cost the county $10,000 to $20,000.


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