10 Trustees Resign, Officials Plan Department Elimination
KREX News Room
DENVER- Gov. John Hickenlooper accepted the resignation of 10 public trustees throughout Colorado, one being Mesa County's Paul Brown.
Officials from Hickenlooper's office said the resignation started with one trustee calling and offering to resign, followed by the resignation of nine others.
These resignations may stem from alleged trustee misconduct discovered by various media outlets.
Gov. Hickenlooper stated, "We have to stand for good government. That means maintaining the public's trust and wherever possible, avoiding even the appearance of any impropriety."
According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, reports show some trustees using taxpayer dollars to take employees out for expensive lunches, as well as using public money to pay for personal expenses.
Although trustees are employed by the state, Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said they are required by law to report back financially to the county on a quarterly basis. "Our board has a great deal of confidence in the current Mesa County public trustee, to conduct the responsibility of that office in a professional and effective manner," said Acquafresca.
Officials say Colorado is the only state where the trustee is its own entity.
Some politicians say their next step is to propose a bill that would eliminate the trustee position and combine it with another county job. "We could operate in Mesa County just like they operate in all the 54 counties that don't have a trustee, and turn that function over to the treasurers' office," said Rep. Ray Scott of District 54.
Other city officials agree with Scott. "If we incorporated the public trustee into the treasurers' office we could confidently expect to save over a $100,000 possibly, significantly more than that," said Acquafresca.
County commissioners say they've also been working to move trustees back into the county's building to save additional expenses.
Officials say they have recently completed a negotiation and they expect the move to happen in the immediate future.
Numerous attempts to contact Mesa County trustee Paul Brown were unsuccessful.
The governor's office is now accepting applications for 10 new trustees.