The normally mild-tempered Jim Ignatius is so concerned about the county's budget he can't contain his anger these days. In a second public blasting of the clerk and recorder, J.J. Jamison, Teller County commission chair explained the change of temperament.
“The reason I brought this up again is that we got taken to the woodshed three years ago when we had issues with Kevin Dougherty, our sheriff at the time, because we felt like we could handle it internally,” Ignatius said at the meeting Dec. 6. “We will be transparent, accountable, focused on service levels and outcomes; that's the reason this was brought up two weeks ago.”
While the issues with Dougherty were more personality differences, with Jamison, it's fiscal, he said. “We're already up to $263,655, which means it's going to be more frustrating next year in order to accomplish what we can't accomplish this year,” Ignatius said, referring to expenses incurred in the general election. “We don't have a contingency fund when elected officials don't do their job.”
In chastising the clerk once again, Ignatius cited three outside reports, including one from Scott Gessler, the Secretary of State, on Jamison's inability to perform her duties.
“These are outside experts looking down on what the deficiencies are with the leadership in that department,” Ignatius said.
Gessler's office took over the election responsibilities of the clerk's office after the primary election in June.
In addition to the additional expense of the election, the finance department has had to step in and reconcile the books related to license-plate and specific-ownership fees collected by the clerk's office. As a result, some bills have not been paid, Ignatius said, adding that the actual amounts would be revealed publicly this month.
“This is costing us a fortune, breaking the bank of Teller County,” Ignatius said. “The public needs to know about what's happening in the clerk's office.”
The county's budget for 2013 at $26,008,674 includes a reduction in funding capital-road projects. As well, the county's budget will be negatively affected in 2014-2015 with the anticipated reduction of property-tax revenue, a result of the flat economy.