FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DELTA COUNTY, COLORADO, Dec. 12, 2017 — Delta County Citizen Report (DCCR), an apolitical, nonprofit media organization reporting on Delta County, Colorado government activities, filed suit today against Delta County Board of County Commissioners alleging violations of state statutes designed to promote transparency in government.
On behalf of DCCR, attorney Michael King with Gunnison Law and Mediation filed a complaint and motion for permanent injunction in District 7 Court today citing routine practices of the Board of County Commissioners that violate Sunshine Law and the Local Government Budget Law of Colorado.
For the past year, DCCR has diligently pursued the Delta County Board of County Commissioners to improve all aspects of its noticing and conduct of public meetings. The organization has filed letters with the Board, recorded protest at meetings, and engaged in consultation with the County Attorney. In a recent letter to the Board, King outlined some of the organization’s complaints and asked for an arbitrated meeting to resolve the issues. Unfortunately, the Board declined the request, which has led to the civil action.
Specifically, the primary areas of concern include the following transgressions by the Board (taken from the complaint):
- The procedure of posting agendas without complete access to the public for a full 24 hours;
- The Board’s failure to adopt a policy requiring public notice of final agendas on the County website;
- The regular procedure of changing the agendas, including additions to the agenda, with less than 24 hours from the meetings;
- The use of a ‘Commissioner’s Calendar of Events’ as appropriate public meeting notice for a collective set of meetings or any single meeting;
- Refusing to acknowledge business meetings involving a quorum of County Commissioners as public meetings, and thereby failing to provide full and adequate public notice of said meetings;
- The Board’s routine lack of adequate detail in the posted agendas;
- The Board’s consistent failure to include supporting documentation to constituents and other interested parties;
- The Board’s inadequate annual budget notification and corollary presentation, including the format of the published budget
- The budget lacks transparency given the large, unappropriated excess reserve balance that is carried over, year to year, without adequate explanation.
Significant policymaking occurs during the Delta County Board’s unnoticed or improperly noticed meetings. The Board has entered into agreements, developed policy and mandated letters of support for various agencies, organizations and special interest groups all without public participation. The Board has recently eliminated opportunities for public involvement including ending the practice of dedicated work sessions every other Monday and evening Town Hall meetings. While constituent time is offered during by-weekly business meetings, Commissioners openly announce that no decisions will be made, further discouraging citizen participation.
DCCR has launched a fundraising campaign to cover the estimated $5,000 in legal expenses. Their campaign can be found at www.fundedjustice.com/transparency
Since November 2016, Citizen Report has blogged on County Commissioner public meetings, county projects, county development plans, county policies, and county budget and finance. The goal of the organization is to help ensure that county government is properly serving all Delta County residents and its objective is to promote a transparent, responsive and engaged county government.
READ THE COMPLAINT: CitizenIncvDCBCC.Complaint.12.12.17