Tom Sullivan: County manager questions facts in treasurer’s letter
Treasurer Brita Horn’s stated “facts” are questionable. The least credible point to me is the first one in which she disparages County Finance Director Dan Strnad.
Those of you who know him don’t need me to tell you that his high level of integrity is unwavering. Her comment was that Dan created the calculation of the portion of the Road and Bridge fund property tax to be distributed to the city of Steamboat Springs. This is not supported by the evidence.
She did not provide evidence in her letter. She referred to evidence during the county commissioners’ April 17 meeting. She advised she had to take care of the mess that was taken by the board’s Finance Director Dan Strnad, miscalculations from 2004 and has documentation to prove it.
I questioned the comment to myself as I had several conversations with Dan when the URA TIF taxes were to start being collected and could not remember that Dan had made any calculations. He did provide advice to the treasurer and assessor. That was in 2004.
On April 24, I read the draft minutes for April 17, including the comments made by Treasurer Horn. I wrote an open records request for the handwritten notes by Dan. I delivered that to Treasurer’s Office on April 26 and received the document on April 30. This evidence about Dan does not support her assertions.
First, the notes were only related to administration of the URA TIF with no mention of calculations of the Road and Bridge property tax distribution to the city. Second, the handwritten notes were not in Dan’s handwriting. The notes were written in cursive script, and Dan does not write in cursive; he prints.
I suggest that the notes were written by one of the two treasurer’s employees of the time and to Dan. Their first names are on the note. So, what about the Road and Bridge property tax calculation?
Dan and I have spent at least an hour discussing the calculation and his memory was more clear than mine until now. At some time before the first distribution of the Road and Bridge property tax, first quarter of 2004, Dan advised the assessor and treasurer that the calculation for the distribution to the city needed to be calculated as net of the URA TIF area valuation — the full assessed valuation within the vity limits minus the assessed valuation of the URA TIF area.
I remember Dan advising me of this in my office. The treasurer’s office provided the assessed valuations for the city, towns and county to the Accounting Department. The department made the payments through the county accounts payable system as it had since 1991. The treasurer’s office was to have made the calculation. My mistake was not asking to see that calculation.
It is the treasurer’s authority and responsibility to distribute the Road and Bridge property tax. I assert that no law was violated as that office authorized the Accounting Department to distribute the funds over four treasurer administrations, including Treasurer Horn. It is her authority to have her office take on that duty.
Treasurer Horn’s letter claims the BCC made a “back-room deal” with the city to forgive interest and not recover all of the overpayment. County and city staff have, as have individual commissioners with individual city council members, spoken of this matter — including to apologize for the lack of communication from the treasurer prior to withholding funds. No deals have been made.
In the April 17 open meeting, Commissioner Cari Hermacinski did offer that since the city did nothing wrong, the interest may be waived. Interest is normally collected after a period of time within which a demand has been made. A demand on the city was not made; instead a distribution of property tax collections was withheld. For a more complete response please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Routt County manager
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