Brita Horn: Article about treasurer omitted 4 key facts
The Pilot’s April 18 article by Scott Franz entitled “Routt County treasurer withholding tax money from Steamboat after tax error discovered,” omitted some key facts. These facts are:
1. The process for calculating Steamboat’s Road and Bridge Fund allocations was established by Routt County’s Finance Director Dan Strnad when Steamboat’s Tax Increment Financing entity was created in 2004. It has remained the same since then, through past Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon and then Chief Deputy Lila Stucker.
2. There was no formal agreement with the finance department and the treasurer on processing these taxes or making this calculation. The process seemed to be set up for “ease of administrative convenience,” rather than following state statutes.
3. Two different sets of county auditors failed to discover the finance department’s miscalculation. McMahan and Associates, LLC has been county’s auditors for the last six years. From 2004 through then, Bondi & Co, LLC were the county’s auditors. Bondi also failed to uncover the tens of thousands of employee theft that we uncovered six years ago.
4. It took 13 years and processing 53 vouchers through the accounting department for them to discover this error. Our Treasurer’s Office immediately moved to correct it. That’s what a treasurer should do: follow the law, regardless of how an error occurred.
Somehow, many Pilot stories regarding the Treasurer’s Office have presented a notably incomplete view of the facts that should be easy to obtain. It is almost as if the Pilot just drafts stories based on what its primary source (Commissioner Hermacinski?) relays, and spins it accordingly.
Taxpayers should watch for the next two developments, which are predictable. The comments of Commissioners Hermacinski and Corrigan foreshadow the first one: forgiving the interest. They told the Pilot that “they aren’t interested in collecting the interest on the overpayments because it was a county mistake, and it didn’t appear the city did anything wrong.” Regardless of its fault, the city had Routt County overpayments for years. My statutory mandate is to recover all overpayments and fees that are due. And I will.
The city’s lightning-fast forwarding of my letter to the county commissioners suggests the second. Back room deals anyone? Look for some sort of “grant” — i.e. forgiveness — from the Routt County commissioners in the same amount of the county’s overpayment to the city. That is just not right.
These overpayments of close to one hundred thousand dollars are your hard earned tax dollars, folks. This is county money. I’d wager that other parts of Routt County could use the funds that Routt County has overpaid Steamboat for years.
Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn
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