Paonia trustees seem to have learned nothing

By Bill Brunner

Dear Editor:

I would like to add some details to the story of the Paonia trustees' payments to their auditor. While quick to denigrate "past councils" for poor management decisions, the majority of the current trustees seem to have learned nothing. In a stunning breach of trust a few weeks ago, they silently approved a payment of $17,800, over and above the contract price of about $28,000 for the 2014 audit. (The next highest bid was for less than $15,000.)

When spending taxpayer money, trustees are obligated to go through several steps. First is to get the most value for the taxpayers' money. Next is to sign a contract for the goods or services. After that they must vote to approve any changes to the contract. Finally, they approve the actual payment in what is called the "disbursements." The audit was proposed as a fixed price contract, and the contract clearly states that any changes must be in writing, approved by both parties. Changes to contracts require a council vote. Recently this was done for a water project that, no joke, amounted to a contract change of 75 cents. Yet the board bypassed this step of contract modification and attempted to hide the $17,800 in the disbursements, approved in mass at the very end of a meeting. Was no one supposed to notice?

When questioned on this overpayment, some council members offered various rationalizations. "It is an insignificant amount of money," as though $17,800 of taxpayer money is not worth their time. The worst excuse is that the contract allows the auditor to charge whatever they want. These individuals think they are running the town like a business! No business would ever grant such an open ended contract. Get this. The auditor next DECLINED to accept the entire amount the council had authorized! What is going on here?

Bill Brunner