May 16, 2023 – Today, El Paso County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution authorizing litigation against the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment regarding implementation of the Collective Bargaining for Counties Act to remedy an unfunded mandate against El Paso County and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to legal relations between El Paso County’s Board of County Commissioners, non-Board elected officials, and supporting entities.

The declaration seeks to address the overreach of County Commissioner authority into the independent county-wide elected offices and the unfunded mandate placed on the County because of the collective bargaining legislation while requesting judicial intervention to:

  • Declare rights and responsibilities of El Paso County
  • Clarify the definition of counties to exclude independent non-commissioner elected officials.

El Paso County Commissioners, along with county-wide elected officials, elected officials from neighboring counties, and organization representatives from across the State held a press conference to announce the filing of the collective bargaining lawsuit against Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and discuss the impacts on counties across the region.

“El Paso County is committed to serving its community and making sure hardworking taxpayers are not burdened with unnecessary costs,” said El Paso County Vice Chair Carrie Geitner. “We understand the value of taxpayer hard-earned money, and this resolution is yet another example of our judiciousness. With this resolution, we are taking the first step to continue providing essential services without being bogged down by unfunded state mandates.”

“I commend El Paso County Commissioners for continuing to represent not only our County but counties and elected offices statewide by leading on this issue,” said El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Steve Schleiker. “This lawsuit is important because it seeks a declaratory judgement to right this obvious wrong. If successful, not only would elected offices like mine get the proper treatment they deserve, but other life-saving agencies would be exempt as well.”

El Paso County is dedicated to maintaining a strong work environment and an ongoing commitment to its employees by providing competitive wages, comprehensive benefits packages, and a focus on work-life balance. The approved resolution ensures that the county can continue to prioritize the best interests of its workforce without being hindered by external mandates.

“We value our employees and are committed to a work environment that supports them,” said Commissioner Stan VanderWerf. “This resolution sends a powerful message that we support our employees and can address their needs without burdening our community with additional financial and administrative costs.”

El Paso County is committed to working with other counties to voice their concerns and opposition to this legislation. The resolution is also an acknowledgment that collective bargaining unfunded mandates can have a negative impact on county governments throughout the region.