Group takes Delta Co. commissioners to court over transparency concerns

Published: Dec. 13, 2017 at 10:25 PM MST
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A group in Delta County alleges that the commissioners are violating state statutes that are meant to promote transparency in government.

The nonprofit organization known as Delta County Citizen Reports said commissioners routinely violate the Sunshine Law as, well as the local government budget law in the state of Colorado.

The group filed the lawsuit on Tuesday afternoon.

"We needed to change our local government and transparency has been an issue for many years," said Joann Kalenak, the president of the Delta County Citizen Report. "They're not doing many of the basics," said Kalenak.

Kalenak lists several reasons the group filed the lawsuit. She said the public is not getting a notice at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

County Commissioner Don Suppes said that isn't the case.

"All meetings have been posted well within the 24-hour time frame and agendas are given where available and when available," he said.

The non-profit also has an issue with how the county budget is presented

"It is the least amount of effort," said Kalenak.

The budget documents posted on the county's website are is scanned, then uploaded. The group said it isn't happy with how it reads, but the commissioners said they've met all requirements.

"We have confirmed this with the Department of Local Affairs, and they have reviewed it and said we are absolutely compliant," Suppes said.

Another issue the group sees is a large amount of unappropriated excess revenue. Members say the county has a 48 percent reserve and that's what's been typical for many years.

Kalenak said the county dictates there should be at least a 25 percent reserve. Commissioner Suppes said not having a healthy reserve would be irresponsible.

"You never know what's going to happen. Should we see a California- style fire go up the Grand Mesa, that reserve will be nothing in a heartbeat," he added.

The group filing the lawsuit says they have a simple objective. They want the commissioners to be more transparent and more engaged with their residents. They said this was a last resort option after repeated attempts to contact and talk with the commissioners and county staff, and fix the problems without legal action.