CBI submits its findings on county, TABOR question

The findings of an investigation into the Mesa County Finance Department, regarding calculations of tax revenue retained by the county between 2003 and 2009, have been submitted to the state attorney general’s office for review.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was asked to look into the case by county officials after local watchdogs brought potential irregularities to their attention.

A story in the Daily Sentinel on July 14, 2013, detailed the complex accounting that a number of former finance department employees contend was improperly used to skirt some $34 million in refunds due the public because of Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

The accounting techniques in question were employed by longtime Mesa County Finance Director Marcia Arnhold, who has said that she was working at the direction of then-Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock. The Mesa County Attorney at the time was Lyle Dechant, now retired.

Under TABOR, tax revenue taken in to state coffers above the limits set by a specific calculation framework are compelled to be returned to citizens.

Legislators cannot raise taxes in most cases without holding a vote of the people.

The CBI confirmed last week that its investigation has been presented to the Colorado Attorney General’s office for review. CBI still considers the case active and provided no further comment.

A spokeswoman with the state attorney general’s office provided no comment as well.

A detailed report of the CBI’s investigation into Mesa County Finance should be available after the attorney general makes a final determination in the case.

That report will be scrutinized by the people closely watching the case, as county officials in August last year claimed that CBI agents investigating the case told them they were in the clear of any wrongdoing.

At the time of that meeting, the CBI had not met with the whistleblowers who originally raised the complex and highly researched complaints.


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