Commissioner hopefuls squabble over workload


— With the hours ticking down toward Election Day Tuesday, two Routt County commissioner candidates are arguing about time or at least how they'll spend it in office.
The latest spark to flare what has been a simmering source of conflict between the two came during a speech Democratic candidate Doug Monger gave at a Rotary Club meeting earlier this week.
"He said quite clearly that he didn't believe that the county commissioner job was a full-time job," Republican candidate Jon Shaw said Thursday.
Monger admitted making a statement about the workload of the position but said Shaw is twisting the intended meaning.
"My comment was that I didn't think it should be evaluated as a full-time job." Monger said. "To get the job done, it could take 40, 60 or 80 hours a week."
Monger said he was assuming that a full-time job meant 40 hours a week, no more, no less.
Rotary Club member Robert Ralston was at the meeting. He said Monger's comment could have been taken either way. However, he thought it was relatively clear what the real meaning was.
"My best recollection is that he was going to put as much time as was needed into the job," Ralston said.
Shaw, who is a retired Denver businessman, has indicated he doesn't believe Monger will have enough free time to give 40 hours a week to being a commissioner.
Monger runs a ranch near Hayden, is a private accountant with 200 clients and also has a job doing the books at BMC West in Steamboat Springs.
If elected, Monger said he will give up the BMC West job and hire help on the ranch if he has to. But he admitted he will try to continue doing tax returns on the side.
Shaw's accusations that Monger isn't ready to work full time being a commissioner didn't sit well with the fourth-generation Routt County native.
"He's just grabbing at straws," Monger said, adding he feels confident he'll be able to do the job.
County Commissioner Ben Beall said he spends about 40 to 50 hours on the job. Before he was elected in 1992, along with Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, all the members of the commission had separate full-time jobs and came into the county offices a couple of times a week.
Both commissioners made it clear when they took office in 1993, however, that they believed the job was full time. The third commissioner, Dan Ellison, also works more than 40 hours a week.
By working full time, Beall, Stahoviak and Ellison are able to be involved with state and regional groups and make Routt County's voice heard at higher levels, they said.
For example, Beall is on the Regional Transportation Planning Commission. Because of his presence there, a reconstruction project for Colorado 131 was planned, Stahoviak said.
For a year after being elected, Beall attempted to maintain his custom construction business. But he said he felt he couldn't do the quality of work that he liked without being on a job site most of the day. Eventually, he quit the business.
"There just wasn't enough hours in the day," he said.
Money is the biggest reason a commissioner would want to work on the side, Beall said. Right now, the job pays $33,000 a year. It can be difficult to make ends meet on that salary, he said.
When either Monger or Shaw takes office in January, the commissioners will make $41,000 a year. The raise was approved by the state Legislature.
Along with more money, the new commission will be freed from administrative duties because of a county manager position that will be added after the first of the year.
"It leaves elected officials to concentrate on policy issues," Beall said.
The county has received 50 applications for the job so far and the commissioners will go over them in the next couple of weeks.
Both Shaw and Monger said they'll use the extra time made available by the county manager by working at the elected position, not for personal use.


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