COLORADO SPRINGS- Elected officials in Colorado aren’t showing up at the office, but they’re still collecting that tax payer funded salary. It comes down to this, the time and cost of recall elections and the inability of other elected leaders to provide oversight has led to problems in Fremont and now Park counties. A sheriff and county clerk keep getting paid without even having to show up.
In just a few weeks Katie Barr will complete her term as Fremont County Clerk. Earlier this year, she was charged with embezzling public funds, check fraud, harassment, and witness intimidation. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, but it’s been months since she’s shown up for work and continues to collect her more than $72,000 tax payer funded salary. Estimates show it would’ve cost tens of thousand of dollars for a recall election.
“Are you going to spend $20,000 to $25,000 to recall them when you have 7 months to go? You have to weigh that as tax payers, as voters. That’s something you have to weigh to see if that’s worth it,” said Fremont County Commissioner Tim Payne.
9News in Denver recently discovered Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener hasn’t been showing up to the office either. Instead, working remotely from Florida to handle the day to day public safety of his Colorado community.
“Okay, I’d like to make a comment on that. We’re a statutory county which means that the sheriff is a statutory position. We as board of county commissioners have absolutely no control over the sheriff,” said Park County Commissioner Dick Elsner in a public meeting.
On January 8th, a new sheriff will take over in Park County. Until then, the sheriff will run out his term on vacation.
Colorado State Senator Paul Lundeen says there aren’t any plans to pass laws to address situations like this. Instead, tax payers have two options when it comes to elected officials not doing their jobs. We can vote them out at election time, or recall them. But it’s the voters who have to get thousands of signatures to make that happen.