Commissioners-Elect Promise "Transparency" And More
by William C. Thomas
At the Conservative Breakfast meeting on Saturday,
December 8, 2012, both Commissioners-elect Rowland and
Ross promised "Transparency" and new ways to address
the County's financial problems as they appeared with
Commissioner Schlegel in the Exhibit Hall before about
100 paying guests.
Bob Lewis, host of the Conservative Breakfast Association,
began the proceedings by inviting Joel Frinkel of
Elizabeth Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10649 to
say grace. Members of the only VFW post in Elbert County
founded in 1983, they were cooking and receiving 80% of
the $10.00/person charge for the meeting. Alan Beatty,
spokesman, talked of the senior dinner they sponsor in
November, the Car Show in September, and the Easter
Egg Hunt they sponsor in spring every year. They also
handle disposal of American Flags and teach "flag
etiquette" to Boy Scouts and other groups.
Robert Rowland, asked first to speak, said that
"transparent" was an overused word; however, he would
still continue to use it, and stressed that the Budget was a
first priority. "We know where we are now," he said, and
that the 2013 Budget, which will be completed for a vote
on Wednesday, had been reviewed and revised by
Commissioner Schlegel. "He's done a fantastic job."
Stressing that "employees are the most valuable asset"
that the County has, Rowland said that payroll would be
met in January and February.
Rowland then turned to the issues regarding Oil and Gas,
saying that the methane reported in the water in Weld
County was "from water wells dug 100 years ago;" not
from hydraulic fracturing now. He completely supports the
vote made regarding the Sylvester Well and feels the
"process" that was followed for its approval was
Finishing with a call that every citizen needs to
participate, Rowland suggested that many people should
serve on the County's various committees and boards.
Larry Ross, who followed him, spoke favorably of the
current BOCC hiring a new financial manager, and talked
about how tough the last ten years have been for
cattlemen throughout the County. He also urged citizens to
participate in government.
Commissioner Schlegel, who noted that House 64 State
Representative Tim Dore was in attendance, spoke of
Dore's "Conservative commitment" and how well he and
Dore would work together on "new legislation" toward
solving the County's problems. Then Schlegel spoke of the
fact that the Contingency Fund, which should have
$500,000.00 in it, only has $22,000.00 in it. However, he
said, that should be rectified by the end of 2013.
Schlegel said he wanted to attract business and growth to
Elbert County and spoke of "short term pain" in order "to
reach our goals," but did not specify what pain. In the
coming year, Schlegel hopes to "finish redistricting,"
which the BOCC delayed this year and "approve" the
Memorandum of Understanding with the Colorado Oil and
Gas Commission "that is above their regulations."
In the question and answer session that followed,
Schlegel said the County was given "verbal permission"
on its Compactor Reclamation Plan, which was
administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. He said they
have "9 test wells they check" for contaminants, all of
which have little or no contaminants. He said that the
County is looking into an offer for a "private trash transfer
operation" at the site.
All three spoke on the question of a "forensic audit" being
done, with Rowland saying it was a "criminal
investigation;" Schlegel pointing out that it would cost
$200,000-$400,000.00 to perform, and Ross saying that it
was not needed because they're "coming into office with a
clear picture of what the Budget is." Schlegel, however,
did concede that "skeletons keep falling out of closets"
from previous administrations, pointing out that various
accounting methods had been performed whereby funds
had been incorrectly diverted from one account to another
and he credited Eidebailly, the Auditor, with finding a
great deal of it. The cost of Eidebailly is $34,500.00, he
pointed out, and "it's as close to a Forensic Audit as we
will be coming."
Oil and Gas revenue was discussed by Rowland, who
explained that one well could pay $40,000.00 and "we'll
know more about the tests done at the Sylvester Well by
January or February" whether or not tapping the resources
in Elbert County will be a reality. Echoing Jill Duvall's
observation that machinery was not taxed, Schlegel
promised to reinstate the 1% tax on machinery and
equipment used in the County by drillers, previously
suspended by the BOCC.
Although both Rowland and Ross were complimented by
Dr. Jim Eller for being the "best prepared and trained"
commissioners-elect to take office, Eric Hartsough asked
whether the imbalance of funds the County faces wasn't a
result of lack of checks and balances within, which neither
answered. Instead, Schlegel pointed to hiring a budget
Rowland promised "a new type of approach to the office"
and Ross said, as he did during the campaign, that there
would be "progress tracked" on the County website.
Echoing his predecessor, Del Schwab, Rowland warned the
audience not "to pull stuff off the Internet," but "to find out
whether it's true or not."