Montrose Commissioners, 2-1, Direct Hospital Trustees to Draft New Lease
MONTROSE – The latest point of contention between the Montrose Board of County Commissioners and some members of the Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees came on Tuesday when the commissioners, in a 2-1 vote, directed the trustees to bring a new office space lease agreement before the commissioners for consideration next month.
The MMH Board of Trustees entered into a yearlong lease agreement with Region 10 last October for office space located within its building at 300 N. Cascade Ave.
In what Board of Trustees President Donald Vacca called an oversight, the trustees failed to seek formal approval of the lease agreement by the county commissioners, as directed by Colorado Revised Statutes. Vacca stood before the commissioners on Tuesday seeking that approval retroactively.
Approval of the lease agreement could have legally been put to rest on Tuesday, in the opinion of County Attorney Robert Hill, but commissioners Ron Henderson and David White denied approval of the lease and directed the trustees to bring the a new lease before the commissioners on March 1.
Henderson and White agreed with each other that commissioner approval should have come before the lease was actually signed. It was unclear whether the two of them actually have an issue with the particular space within the Region 10 building.
“All I want to do is have it done the right way,” White said, adding that the Trustees do it in “compliance with state statute.”
For Henderson, the trustees “have to start paying attention to the 1,400 words in the hospital statute” and start doing “what the board of trustees are supposed to do.” He then said that a “freestyle” running of the hospital is “baloney” and “not appropriate.”
Commissioner Gary Ellis, who dissented in the decision, said that the issue could have been resolved and the lease approved simply and with no harm.
“I think it is appropriate to get this resolved and move on,” Ellis said. He conceded that there may have been an oversight on the part of the county commissioners as well in that they didn’t notify the trustees that commissioner approval of the lease agreement was expected.
“It’s kind of silly to continue this when we could close it today,” Ellis said. “I agree that we have some culpability in this. We never raised that issue.”
During the public comment portion of the discussion, Richard Harding, who was appointed to the Board of Trustees by the commissioners last December (after the Trustees entered into the lease agreement), told the commissioners that he finds it hard to believe that the issue arose out of a simple mistake.
“This isn’t the first time prior approval was required,” Harding said. “As a trustee, the commissioners appoint you based on a fitness to serve and part of that is knowing what the requirements are. I don’t know how to resolve the issue. I do understand that the rule of law needs to prevail. They need to be held accountable for their actions.”
Doug Glaspell, a former member of the Board of Trustees, then alleged that White had given Harding a look to encourage Harding to express his opinion against approval of the lease agreement at that particular point in time.
“I have real concerns when you stare directly at the one person in this audience who will voice an opinion that favors yours,” Glaspell told White. “You need to represent all of us and not lean one way or another. I know that you have had conversations with that individual [Harding] previously.”
White denied the allegation.
Glaspell went on in saying that the commissioners could have stopped the lease agreement issue from getting to this point.
“I would like to comment that each one of you three was well aware it was going on,” Glaspell said. “We have made a lot of mistakes but it has been on both sides. I didn’t hear one of you bring the issue up and you have been on this job a lot longer that we have. It was a mistake but as I look back on it, you guys had legal staff, you guys had administrative staff – a whole lot of folks that could have picked up early on this.”
If a newly drafted lease agreement is brought before the commissioners next month it will be third time it has gone before the board for discussion.