Mesa County Trustee: Foreclosures over 1,000

While most local governments are being forced by the poor economy to trim staff, Mesa County Trustee Paul Brown is taking on new employees.

The increase in foreclosures this year necessitated it, Brown said.

Last year, Mesa County had 469 foreclosure filings. This year, the county already has doubled that total, Brown said Thursday.

“I don’t think we will surpass what we had in the ‘80s (following the oil shale bust),” Brown said, “but we are already over 1,000 for this year ... and we’ve got another six weeks to go.”

The onslaught of foreclosures means more paperwork. For Brown’s staff of two full-time employees, that workload was proving overwhelming, so he hired three temporary employees to help.

“We are keeping our head above water as we are now,” he said. One of the new hires is assisting with releases. Another was hired to help with paperwork and mailings and some of the “grunt work,” Brown said. The Trustee’s Office also is employing a student intern who works three hours a day.

Brown said the temporary workers all understand that “when we get caught up and things slow down, (they) will no longer have a job.”

All of the temporary employees were hired without benefits and are being paid hourly, Brown said.

The rate of foreclosures is slowing across Colorado and the nation. Brown predicted earlier this year foreclosures in Mesa County would begin slowing in the fourth quarter. He has since backed off that forecast and said he hopes foreclosures will begin dissipating sometime in mid-2010.

Brown said the decline in foreclosures on the Front Range makes him optimistic that his revised prediction for Mesa County is accurate. Traditionally, he said, the Western Slope’s economy lags about six months behind the Front Range’s economy.

An additional reason for optimism is the percentage of foreclosures that are cured before homeowners lose their houses. Throughout the foreclosure crisis, the percentages of those able to find their way out of foreclosure have remained about the same as prior years.

“Only about 30 percent of them wind up going to sale,” Brown said.

Whether he will need to hire more people is unclear at the moment, but Brown said he is confident of one thing: “I’m gonna get the job done.”


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