Give trustees’ duties to counties, group says

The Colorado office of Americans for Prosperity is calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper not to replace the 10 public trustees he asked to resign earlier this month.

The group’s state director, Jeff Crank, said the 10 counties that the trustees served, including Mesa County, instead should do what all other counties do, allow their county treasurers to oversee private foreclosure sales.

“Your laudable request that the state’s public trustees resign and reapply for the job is a good first half step in the direction of fiscal responsibility and common sense,” Crank wrote.

“I respectfully ask that you take the next logical half step by declining to refill these positions. Your second best course of action, in our opinion, would be putting a hold on any reappointments until legislators can weigh in on the matter next year.”

Americans for Prosperity is a national right-leaning group that advocates for smaller government.

The request is nearly identical to that made by Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, days after Hickenlooper asked for and accepted the trustees’ resignations. They included Mesa County Trustee Paul Brown, who has since said he planned to reapply for his job.

The governor’s office would not say how many people have applied for the positions so far, but did say state law requires him to fill the positions. He gave the trustees until early August for their resignations to be effective.

The governor said he accepted the resignations because of numerous newspaper articles in The Daily Sentinel and The Denver Post detailing misappropriated funds and other wrongdoing by some of the trustees.

The stories showed, for example, that Brown offered to open competitive bidding for legal advertising so that the Sentinel could compete for the contract, even though he signed a one-year contract with the Palisade Tribune a month earlier. The contract is worth up to $500,000.

Like Crank, Scott wants the governor to delay the reappointments until the Legislature can consider a bill similar to one he tried to get lawmakers to approve during this year’s session — to do away with the office in those counties that request it.

The offices are funded through fees, but any surplus money goes into a county’s coffers.

Scott said doing away with the offices could save each county as much as $300,000 a year.

The Legislature did pass a watered down bill offered by Scott, which requires the trustees to be audited each year, present their annual budgets to county commissioners and use county or state procurement rules when negotiating contracts or purchases valued at $25,000 or more.


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