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Diminishing returns

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An ailing economy and shrinking tax revenues, together with a resurgent fear of "socialized medicine," have nearly halved the budget of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment. Is this penny-wise and pound-foolish?

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Gary Smedley
Cedar Heights

Retired geologist

What should the county health department be responsible for? Taking care of the health of people who can't afford it themselves.

Is regular restaurant inspection all that necessary? I eat out a lot. I sincerely hope restaurants are being kept clean, bugs kept from spreading.

Prioritize the following: monitoring air quality, monitoring water quality, testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Water monitoring first, then STD testing, then air.

If your own budget were halved, where would you cut back? Fewer vacations, less travel, less gas, fewer gifts.

Are taxes too high, too low, or about right? I wouldn't want taxes any higher they'd just waste our money. Any lower, they'll cut back too much on everything. They're probably about right now.

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Dave Waddell
Bear Creek Park area

Verizon employee

What should county health duties be? Watching for flu epidemics and monitoring the mosquito population for diseases.

Were your budget halved, what would you forgo? We'd discontinue cable, spend less on food.

How important is regular restaurant inspection? I worked at a Holiday Inn during college. Trust me, those inspections are needed.

How might city and county cutbacks affect you personally? Parts of our parks and trails system are in danger of being sold off.

Are taxes too high, too low, or about right? Our county taxes are among the lowest in Colorado, and a lot of important services aren't getting funded. They're probably too low.

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Pauleta Terven
Northeast

Retired dietician

Name the chief responsibility of county health. Preventative health. We're inviting disaster by underfunding county health.

How important is regular restaurant inspection? Extremely important. I was in food service for 30 years. You never wanted to see the health department coming, but their visits were highly educational.

Which is more necessary: water quality monitoring, air quality monitoring, or STD treatments? STD treatment gives the most bang for the buck, but water and air quality are terribly important, too.

How might county health cutbacks hurt you personally? I like to eat out, and I'll get food poisoning as easily as you if nobody's monitoring restaurant cleanliness. I promise you, that's no fun.

Bob Campbell

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