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Proposed bill would allow statutory cities to pay planning commissioners

— Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, is sponsoring a bill in the Colorado Legislature that would allow statutory cities to pay planning commissioners.

The bill has been laid over in committee because Mitsch Bush currently is sick, but she said by phone Wednesday that the genesis for the bill came to her from the town of Eagle.

Eagle has had trouble retaining planning commissioners, she said, and this bill would allow statutory cities to pass an ordinance compensating commission members.

Steamboat Springs is a home rule city that has chosen through ordinance to not compensate Planning Commission members except for authorized expenses for city business.

However, Oak Creek and Yampa are statutory towns.

Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen said there is some difficulty finding community members to serve on the town's Planning Commission (there's currently one alternate position vacant) but that the issue of paying members cuts two ways.

"If you have skilled planning commissioners, maybe they should be reimbursed," Page-Allen said, but she's of the opinion that "community members should be ready and willing to volunteer."

More so than a lack of compensation, she said, the trouble is finding members who have the necessary skills to serve on the Planning Commission and are willing to put in the time and attend night meetings.

In Yampa, the Board of Trustees sits as the Planning Commission with one additional citizen representative, Town Clerk Janet Ray said, but the commission hasn't had a meeting for some time.

Mitsch Bush said she's fairly confident the bill has the votes to pass, but she does not know when it will be taken up again in the Local Government committee.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz