A Delta County organization plans to file suit Tuesday against the Delta County Commission, contending that the county's budget process is flawed and was conducted without appropriate transparency.
The suit will seek a permanent injunction against "routine practices" by the county that contravene Colorado Open Meetings laws and laws governing the drafting of local government budgets, JoAnn Kalenak, president of Delta County Citizen Report, said.
The county's budget process passed muster, County Administrator Robbie LeValley said.
The County Commission on Monday approved the county's $11.6 million general fund.
The citizen report "misread, misinterpreted, and misapplied state open-meeting laws and state budget requirements," the county said in response to a formal budget complaint lodged with the county in November.
Citizen Report listed several areas in its formal complaint in which it said the budget process fell short.
"The proposed budget lacks fiscal (responsibility) given the unallocated, large reserve balance that is carried over, year to year, without adequate explanation. And it lacks transparency given its limited public involvement and its incomplete and poorly presented format," the report said in its complaint.
The county budget also was sparse and difficult to read, the complaint said.
"While neighboring counties and towns provide bountiful narratives and infographics in their budgets," the complaint said, "Delta County's budget consists of 95 pages of blurred, rescanned balance sheets."
The county's response said the county's unspent funds are appropriate.
The budget anticipates that the county will begin 2018 with $18.9 million in fund balance, down slightly from the $19 million with which it began 2017.
"We respectfully disagree that carrying a healthy fund balance is irresponsible," the county said in its response. "In fact, just recently we had a flood in the Health and Human Services building. Stuff happens. Lessons learned from other counties around the state show that the 3 percent emergency reserve required by (the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights) is wholly inadequate to deal with disasters."
Delta County Citizen Report describes itself as an apolitical, 501(c)(3) nonprofit media organization reporting on the county government's activities.