Jamison leaves county in arrears

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The paperwork tells the story. Teller County is in arrears in paying its bills. Among the unpaid bills is a debt to the State Department of Revenue for $230,000.

At issue is the failure of J.J. Jamison, the county's clerk & recorder, to distribute fees collected by her office.

“The clerk collects license, recording and motor-vehicle fees,” said Teller County commission chair Jim Ignatius. “Those dollars have to be distributed to the various entities, including the state and the cities of Woodland Park, Cripple Creek and Victor. Teller County is only the pass-through agency.”

The latest news about late or unpaid bills adds more fuel to the fire of exposure suffered by Jamison in the past few months, revelations that became public when the Secretary of State's office took over the clerk's election responsibilities in June.

The takeover was preceded by 15 months of constant review and evaluation by the Secretary's office, Ignatius said.

A series of emails and a list of late or unpaid bills reflects a high level of frustration among county officials, particularly the finance department, which has stepped in to help reconcile the clerk's books.

“Once again, my department does not have time to continue managing your financial controls and processes for you; however, we need to be able to see an end to our involvement,” writes Laurie Litwin, the county's director of finance and budget, in an email to Jamison Oct. 4.

In addition to money owed to the state, the county owes funds to the state treasurer, the state department of health and Teller County Search & Rescue. “We have suggested to our staff that some sort of check list be developed to make sure that all items collected get distributed out and paid to the correct vendor,” Litwin writes in an email Nov. 30.

In yet another revelation, county administrator Sheryl Decker writes in an email to Jamison, who has said publicly that her office had found a surplus. “…it was actually Mary Anthony (in the finance department) who discovered that the county was not balancing the accounts properly which has resulted in an overpayment of taxpayer dollars to the state totaling roughly $9,000 in the last two years alone…”

In another fiasco, Jamison failed to issue time sheets to election judges, leaving the amount of paychecks in limbo. “They need to be paid,” Ignatius said.

As of the middle of December, Ignatius remained concerned about possible penalties attached to the unpaid bills. “I'm worried,” he said.

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