Last updated 11:17PM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Citizens Group Helping Bail Out Archuleta County
(2007-06-28)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Efforts to unravel a financial puzzle plaguing Archuleta County Government, and causing major reductions in services, are moving forward.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Archuleta County Commissioners this week adopted a second revised 2007 Budget, as they try to address an estimated 1.8-million dollar budget shortfall this year.
Commission Chairman Bob Moomaw says the budget adopted this week eliminates three more positions, dropping the county's authorized work force by 72 positions.
But, he says, only about half that many people are actually losing their jobs.
MOOMAW: APPROXIMATELY HALF ARE REDUCTION IN FORCE AND THE OTHERS ARE POSITIONS THAT WERE VACANT AT THE TIME WHEN THE FINANCIAL CRISIS BEGAN TO HIT AND WE DID NOT, YOU KNOW WE HAVEN'T BEEN FILLING THOSE POSITIONS SINCE THE FIRST OF THE YEAR.
Cuts area also being made in other areas, including reduction in bus service, road repairs, recycling pickups and more.
Simultaneously, a citizens group has formed to keep an eye on Archuleta County finances.
Eddie Bennett is President of the Archuleta County Citizens Alliance.
BENNETT: WHAT IS IMPORTANT AT THE PRESENT TIME, IS TO GET SOME FACTS OUT TO THE COMMUNITY, BECAUSE I THINK THE RUMOR MILL, LIKE A LOT OF OTHER PLACES, BUT ESPECIALLY SMALL PLACES IS OUT THERE, AND A LOT OF FACTS ARE NOT FACTS, THEY'RE DISTORTIONS.
Bennett says the groups purpose is to be collaborative rather than vindictive.
BENNETT: WHILST WE ARE COLLABORATIVE, WE CAN BE IF WE HAVE TO BE, CONFRONTATIONAL IF WE THINK SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENRY ISN'T WHAT THE CITIZENRY WANTS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE ORIGINAL COURTHOUSE DEAL THAT WAS GOING TO BE MADE WITH THE COUNTY PAGOSA HOLDINGS, WE THOUGHT IT WAS NOT AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO BE SELLING THE PRIME ASSET OF THE COUNTY WHEN WE'RE IN FINANCIAL STRAIGHTS AND IT REALLY WASN'T GOING TO SOLVE OUR IMMEDIATE PROBLEM ANYWAY, WE DIDN'T THINK, BUT IT'S STILL A LIVE ISSUE, SO THAT'S THE KIND OF THING WE GOT INVOLVED WITH.
About 150 people attended a town hall meeting held by the Alliance Wednesday to hear the latest on the crisis.
59th District State Representative Ellen Roberts was among those in attendance.
ROBERTS: I THINK THE GROUP IS A GOOD COMPLEMENT TO WHAT THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ARE DOING THERE. THEY ARE HOLDING SOME TOWN HALL MEETINGS AS WELL. BUT I THINK THIS GROUP DOES HOLD SOME VALUE IN THAT IT'S NOT IN THE COUNTY STRUCTURE, SO BETWEEN THE TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF TOWN HALL MEETINGS I THINK PEOPLE ARE GETTING A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR WHAT'S GOING ON IN TERMS OF THE FACTUAL ASSESSMENT AND ALSO VOICE THEIR CONCERNS.
Roberts says the State Department of Local Affairs is assisting in untangling the financial mess, in part by helping underwrite a forensic audit.
ROBERTS: IT IS A COUNTY PROBLEM. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE STATE NOT TO TRY AND MICROMANAGE THE COUNTY AT THE SAME TIME THE STATE HAS TO DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY, SO THE STATE KNOWS BUT ALSO THE RESIDENTS OF ARCHULETA COUNTY KNOW THAT WE'VE GOTTEN TO THE BOTTOM OF IT AND WE'RE GOING TO ADDRESS IT.
Moomaw says they have no timetable right now on when they hope to have a good handle on what happened and how to get out of the financial mess.
But they hope to once a forensic audit now getting underway, is done.
MOOMAW: AND THAT IS PROJECTED TO TAKE FOUR TO SIX WEEKS, AND ONCE WE HAVE THOSE FIGURES, WE CAN BEGIN A RECOVERY PLAN AND WE'LL KNOW ABOUT HOW LONG THAT WILL TAKE, BUT WE NEED TO KNOW HOW BIG A HOLE WE ARE IN AND THAT'S THE PURPOSE OF THE FORENSIC AUDIT.
Bennett says the Alliance is also awaiting results of the audit.
BENNETT: I MEAN, I THINK, AS SOON AS WE GET INFORMATION FROM THE FORENSIC AUDIT WE'LL ALL WANT TO GET TOGETHER BECAUSE WE ALL WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED AND WHO DID WHAT.
Moomaw says right now there's no evidence of any criminal intent in Archuleta County's financial mess.
MOOMAW: MY GUESS IS, AND IT'S STRICTLY A GUESS, IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF IT IS POOR ACCOUNTING.
But, if anything criminal is found by the audit, Moomaw says they won't hesitate to act.
MOOMAW: WE'VE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY ON THIS AND ARE WORKING WITH HIM ALTHOUGH AT THIS TIME THERE'S NO INDICATION THAT FRAUD OR STEALING HAS OCCURED.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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