Commissioners recommend removing Public Health Director from his post

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 5:25 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Mesa County Commissioners wanting transparency over recent dealings with Jeff Kuhr, the Mesa County Board of Public Health.

The three county commissioners are calling for Kuhr to be fired after an independent audit and learning about recent expenditures.

County Commissioners found Kuhr didn’t follow county rules for awarding contracts, misused tax dollars, bought alcohol for employees with taxpayer dollars and didn’t do an adequate job of record keeping.

Commissioner Cody Davis said the county is committed to doing things with the utmost transparency.

“These are public dollars, scrutiny of the highest order is used when considering contracts and money goes out the door,” Davis said “We’re not saying there’s any improper expenditure, but the process that was gone through was improper. You can do the right thing, just in the wrong way and that’s kind of what this is.”

County Commissioners said they aren’t looking into any criminal charges against Kuhr, but are recommending the Health Department remove him from his position.

“We don’t have that authority to make that termination. But it’s our recommendation because we are the fiscal agents. We’re the ones that have that fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and the voters of Mesa County,” Commissioner Davis said.

Kuhr issued the following statement, which is unedited:

“Our staff worked hard for four months to provide all documentation for the audit. The outcome is what we hoped it would be - a set of practices where we can improve as a department.

The Board of Public Health received the results and created a specific action plan for moving forward. The plan directly targets the areas of concern found in the audit and we are already working on procedures to address those areas. Our practices will strengthen as a result of the audit.

Our team will continue to give the best customer service to our community.”

Executive Director Jeff Kuhr

Six recommendations to amend the situation were given to the Board of Health, five of which were accepted willingly, the last one wasn’t.

“The first five recommendations, the Board of Health agrees with, they agree to the egregiousness of what has happened, and they have agreed to fix it,” Commissioner Davis said. “The sixth item is where they disagree, and that’s eliminating the Executive Director of the Health Department.”

Commissioner Davis said the issue all ultimately boils down to transparency and showing taxpayers what is happening with their money whether it’s ethical or not.