Committee nixes Scott proposal to eliminate appointed trustees
DENVER — After much testimony, several days of delay and an amendment to make it completely opt-in, the House Local Government Committee still killed Rep. Ray Scott’s bill Wednesday to do away with governor-appointed public trustees.
The measure, a repeat of a bill the Grand Junction Republican introduced last year, would have allowed any of the 10 counties that have governor-appointed public trustees to transfer those duties to their county treasurers, who handle foreclosure sales in all other Colorado counties.
Earlier Wednesday, the Mesa County Commission met to discuss whether it would send a letter of support for Scott’s bill. Commissioners approved sending a letter of support, but only if the bill was amended to allow “certain counties the option to leave the Public Trustee as an independent office” — arguably the key tenet of Scott’s bill to begin with.
Scott said the law that created the governor-appointed positions has become nothing more than a patronage job.
The bill Scott introduced last year was watered down to provide some accountability, but before it could be implemented, Gov. John Hickenlooper called on all 10 to resign after a series of articles in The Daily Sentinel and The Denver Post detailing problems in some of the offices.
The governor re-appointed five of those trustees who had no issues, but didn’t reappoint then Mesa County Treasurer Paul Brown.
The county’s new trustee, Mike Moran, said there’s still good reason to keep the positions, particularly in the state’s larger counties.
Moran said despite what Scott has told state lawmakers, the public trustee offices are not county offices and don’t use county tax dollars. The offices and staff are entirely funded from fees.
On the contrary, the counties earn money from the offices. In addition to getting lease payments for office space, any surplus money from the offices are transferred to the county coffers each year, he said.
“State Rep. (Ray) Scott has never talked with me about what the public trustee office does, and has never visited my office, despite my invitation to him,” Moran said in an email. “I understand that he never visited the public trustee office during the tenure of my predecessor either. State Rep. Ray Scott does not appear to have an understanding of the public trustee office.”