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Food stamp fraud reported

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The Board of County Commissioners on Monday heard report of a local case involving food stamp fraud that involved a large amount of money -- $26,000.

Health and Human Services director Chuck Lemoine related some details of the incident when asked by commissioners about public assistance fraud in the county.

Lemoine said the case had recently come to trial after more than two years of investigation and preparation.

Lemoine reported that repayment of $26,000 is a condition of the probation agreement in the conviction.

According to a separate unconfirmed report, the case involved a local businessman who was using a SNAP (food stamp) card to purchase food items at a grocery store. The food was then used in his business enterprise.

The food stamp program is 100 percent funded by the federal government, though the county has staff on payroll who administer the program locally.

Commissioners were told that the tip for the case "came from the community." Sometimes, eligibility technicians who work for the county provide information that leads to a case of public assistance fraud, the BoCC was told.

In other business at its Dec. 19 regular meeting, the Board of County Commissioners dealt with the following matters:

• Commissioner Doug Atchley reported that the board still has not gotten information it requested from the state at least six months ago. The commissioners have asked for the exact amount of Medicaid payments received by health care providers in the county. The amount is estimated at $2.2 million per month. The information was once regularly made available, but during 2016 the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance stopped providing it. Local HHS director Lemoine said he would again contact Christina Martinez or Joshua Montoya at the department about providing the information that the Delta Commissioners have asked for.

• Commissioners appointed Steve Shea to the Delta County Planning Commission representing the Delta area.

• The board approved purchase of three F-150 pickup trucks with tow hitch from Hellman Motor Company for $28,412 each. They will be used by sheriff's deputies. The units will replace three other F-150s being retired from service.

• Commissioners agreed to participate in a program called CPACE that promises to make certain financial incentives available to some property owners in the county that want to install solar electric generating equipment on their buildings.

• County assessor Debbie Griffith reported that a proposal expected to come before the General Assembly could lower the assessed value percentage on residential properties statewide from 7.96 percent of market value to possibly less than 6 percent. The proposal on its face could lower residential property tax bills by some 20 percent. But it would also translate into a big decrease in property tax income to the county and other local governments that rely on the property tax for operating revenue. Griffith reported the possible change is due to big residential growth on the Front Range and the effect of that growth is having on the statutory balance of property tax revenues.

• Commissioners heard a report from Grand Mesa Nordic Council and Dave Knutson on the council's purchase of a new trails grooming machine.

• District 1 Commissioner Doug Atchley said that he would be willing to help Fort Uncompahgre pay for items on a list of improvements and new programs using funds made available by the Colorado Lottery and GOCO.

• Commissioners approved an agreement for exclusive use of a gravel pit located in Montrose County in the Highway 92 corridor south of Crawford. The pit is permitted by both Montrose County and the state, according to staff.

• Commissioners approved an official policy for the disposal of county-owned real and personal property. Treasurer Lisa Tafoya and assessor Debbie Griffith explained the property consists of very small parcels created by rights-of-way acquisition and various mineral lease interests, many obtained through tax lien abandonment. The policy will be officially adopted by resolution at an upcoming meeting.

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