FILE - Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman

Aurora, Colo., Mayor Mike Coffman speaks during a news conference about the the state's efforts to protect the process of casting a vote in the upcoming general election Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in downtown Denver. 

(The Center Square) – Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman voiced his support for the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) on Thursday after commissioners in Douglas County took steps earlier this week to explore forming their own public health department.

“The City of Aurora is in all three counties represented by the Tri-County Health Department, and I believe it’s better for our city to be under one health department than multiple health departments,” Coffman said in a tweet.

TCHD became a point of contention during the pandemic. In June 2020, state officials ordered C&C Café in Castle Rock to close after violating TCHD public health orders that limited indoor gatherings.

The following month, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners voiced their intent to leave TCHD. By November, the board walked-back its plans and said the county will stay through the end of 2022.

On Monday, Douglas County Commissioners approved a $144,720 contract with Health Management Associates to complete a community health assessment and a Public health improvement plan, according to the Castle Rock New-Press.

The commissioners also announced the formation of a nine-person public health advisory committee (PHAC) during the same work session.

According to the report, commissioners anticipate the plan to be completed by the end of the year. The advisory group will meet once per month from August until January, with a possible extension of the meetings and committee thereafter.

PHAC will be responsible for reporting the progress of their work to the public health working group, a group of city officials formed in February to facilitate leaving TCHD.

Coffman warned that breaking up TCHD would be more costly to the taxpayers of Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas counties because the entities would lose the cost savings of having one authority oversee the public health needs of all three jurisdictions.

“Having one public health organization over Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties allows for greater depth of public health expertise that would not be found in smaller departments created after a breakup,” Coffman said.