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Entries in Mesa County Budget (4)


DEVELOPING...Mesa County Commissioner John Justman uses local tax dollars for recent trip to the Grand Hyatt Hawaii.

VetTheGov recently learned via a recent land use meeting on May 26, 2015 where Commissioner John Justman was comically called out by Commissioner Scott McInnis about his violation of County policy for his attire since he just arrived back from Hawaii.

Hawaii during tough economic conditions in Mesa County? What's also worthy of mentioning is that Commissioner Justman had the trip removed from the Commissioners weekly calendar. VetTheGov is guessing Commissioner Justman didn't want this trip to the Grand Hyatt for the National Association of Counties Western Interstate Conference broadcasted for public knowledge in that it might just get negative attention. Well the cat is out of the bag Commissioner Justman and VetTheGov is on the story and has already sent in several CORA request. VetTheGov is concerned in the current weak local economy and all of the county's budget cuts that Commissioner Justman could ever justify this extravagant trip on the taxpayer dole.

Watch Commissioner McInnis comment to Commissioner Justman in below video starting at 0:48 


Stay tuned as VetThegov will try and determine the benefit and total cost of this trip to Mesa County taxpayers!



Breaking News: Mesa County Insurance Funds being Depleted. Commissioners Ignore!

Mesa County taxpayers VetTheGov has been made aware by a local citizen Dennis Simpson who has kept tabs on the local County Budget over the last several years has once again located some very concerning inconsistencies in the Mesa County Insurance Fund. 

Today VetTheGov received the following email from Dennis and he asked it to be shared as his concern moving forward will effect all Mesa County tax paying stakeholders.


As you may recall, I attended your August 11 meeting and made a presentation regarding the rapid decline of the fund balance in your Insurance Fund.  As I explained at the meeting, my entire financial analysis used data that is available on your website as my source. 

Six weeks have now passed and the problems I identified have not been discussed with you by your staff.  I found this odd so I sent a CORA request to Angela asking for all Emails on this subject.  Today she sent the attached  email  from Frank to the three of you.  It is now more clear why you have not felt any urgency to address this issue.   Frank's statement that "it is clear that the fund is much healthier than stated in public hearing this morning"   has apparently  led you to believe that this is a back-burner issue.

At my presentation, I pointed out that the fund balance in the insurance fund had plummeted from $2.7 million to $1 million in 2013.  I also pointed out that the projections for 2014 (PREPARED BY COUNTY STAFF) showed that 12/31/14 fund balance would drop to below $100,000. 

So Frank visited Eleanor who told him that the fund balance on 8/11/14 was 2.2 million.  He mentions that Eleanor had provided some caveats to publishing that number but did not bother to provide any specifics of  what these caveats were.    There are many ways that an unadjusted fund balance in the middle of a month may be very misleading.    Almost no private company or public body publishes financial information in the middle of the month and there is good reason.  The accounting staff needs time to make sure all entries for a month are posted before things like "fund balance" are meaningful.

If you take the time to look at the financial statements on your website you will see that the fund balance on June 30, 2014 was $967,705 and that the fund balance on July 31 was $1,073,609.  Neither of these numbers are anywhere near $2.2 million  Using Frank's logic, the fund balance more than doubled in 7 business days.  While it is possible that some magic windfall occurred,  Frank should have recognized and explained what magical event occurred.  I have attached a copy of the July report so you can see how the actual July 31 fund balance is calculated. I have drawn arrows to three number which are: fund balance January 1, 2013-$1,005,806,  2014 revenue through July 31, 2014-$5,030,806, and 2014 expenditures through July 31, 2014-$4,963,033.  If you add the first two numbers and subtract the third,  the total comes to $1,073,609.

As bad as it was for Frank to conclude, without explanation, that fund balance had doubled in 7 days, the bigger issue is that he totally ignored the comments I made regarding the projection of fund balance on December 31, 2014.  One of the most important factors in the development of the 2015 budget is to apply the best logic available to projecting what will happen in the remainder of 2014.  The comment that seems to have totally escaped Frank was that I had stated that COUNTY STAFF had projected the fund balance on December 31, 2014 to be $85,370 (down from the $2.7 million of 1/1/13). When the July statements were published, this projection changed to be $355,452 (circled on attached report).   Either projected number should have caused immediate corrective action. 

Worse yet, the staff projections may be too optimistic.  As I pointed out, the staff seriously underestimated the 2013 claims expenditures when the 2014 budget was being developed.  The fund balance projected for 12/31/13 on  6/30/13 was $2.6 million. The actual 12/31/13 fund balance was $1 million.  No explanation has been provided for how the staff was so far off in 2013 and no evidence has been presented. that the 2014 projection methods have been changed.  if 2013 history repeats itself in 2014, it is very possible  that the insurance fund balance with be totally depleted by the end of the year.

Frank's email states that "management is well aware of the health care issue".    While it is true that the existence of the problem has been recognized,  it is obvious that management has not recognized the severity of the problem.  At a recent meeting Steve  stated that they my presentation was not a surprise and that almost all of what I said had been previously presented to the Commissioners.  Rose stated that most of my information was news to her.  Steve then said that Rose must have missed the meetings where this data was shared.  Rose disagreed that she had missed such important meetings.  The fact that the staff obviously does not comprehend how deep of a hole has been dug should make it obvious which Commissioner spoke the truth.

I am even more concerned that you are relying too heavily on Frank for advice.  While he may be very knowledgeable about data processing, he has demonstrated no competency in supervising the financial affairs of the County.  At a minimum, you should explain to the taxpayers why it is that you believe he has sufficient experience in financial management to have such a large impact on the decision-making process.  I attended your recent unrecorded meeting discussing the budget for 2015 Capital Expenditures.   I also attended the June meeting where the 2015 budget was discussed.   Evelyn attended the June meeting but it was obvious that she was not able to speak her mind.  No one from accounting attended the more recent budget meeting.   It is obvious that Frank and Tom intend to filter all information that you receive and that they intend to limit the need for you to make any decisions by controlling what information is provided to you and when it is provided.

I hope you totally change the process for development of the 2015 budget before it is too late.  If you don't actively seek input from your accounting staff and knowledgeable community members, the results could be very unpleasant.


Stay Tuned as VetTheGov through recent CORA request regarding the 2013 Insurance payouts to see if the Brickey v. Sgt. Matt Lewis 4th Amendment settlement has affected the Funds Balance!  The Brickey Settlement occurred in 2013 and if you look at the fund balances you will see it went almost 900K in the negative direction.  2014 Insurance Fund half way through not looking much better! 

It is the hope of VetTheGov that the County Commissioners will see a history of public employee insiders withholding Public Information and demand a full investigation for the reasons why!!!  Once again where is the TRANSPARENCY?

Mesa County the time is now to have those being paid by your hard earned tax dollars to stop flushing these dollars down the toilet with zero accountability and begin to grapple with the realities of a local government that has become TOO BIG TO FAIL and Unable to hold itself accountable to the people that fund it.  Enough is Enough! 


Maybe this is Why Mesa County employee turnover is High and Moral low!

In a recent story in the Grand Junction Sentinel regarding Mesa County turnover rates, VetTheGov dug in a little deeper as to the more likely reasons. Could it be that County workers are seeing positions removed in order for the elite few to receive raises??? Let's take a look!

VetTheGov has highlighted some positions located on page one of the 2010 & 2011 annual salaries posted on Mesa County's website.

Starting with the elected County Commissioners pay you will notice two of the three received raises from the $72,500 up to $76,600 & $76,700. Only one Commissioner in 2011 received the usual $72,500 annual salary.

The next thing that jumps off the page is the position of Deputy Assessor-Administration pay in 2010 was $80,775.95 and dropped all the way to $71,118.37. Could this be why the next highlighted position below that one is Director of Financial Services which saw their salary INCREASE from $102,745.92 in 2010 up to $107,371.93??? As you continue through the entire salary structure of the County you find a very interesting trend of some winners and many losers on the pay scale freeze or even salary reductions. It just depends on the position you hold. Of course VetTheGov focused on all the director positions for the County and are broken down for your convenience.

Mesa County Director Position Salaries 2010 - 2011

  • Financial Services   $102,745.92 in 2010; raised to $107,371.93 in 2011
  • Public Works  $129,549.68 in 2010; raised to $139,871.06 in 2011
  • Director-CJSD  $102,541.68 in 2010; lowered to $99,450.12 in 2011
  • MV & Recording   $90,017.24 in 2010; lowered to $69,529.80 in 2011
  • Land Use & Dev   $90,017.24 in 2010; lowered to $87,732.84 in 2011
  • Environmental Health   $90,618.05 in 2010; lowered  to $89,427.00 in 2011
  • Prevention & ED  $58,368.68 in 2010; raised to $60,732.00 in 2011
  • Long Range Planning   $90,660.44 in 2010; lowered to $88,148.64 in 2011
  • Dept. Health Services   $99,983.12 in 2010; raised to $106,183.38 in 2011
  • Waste management   $72,375.18 in 2010; raised to $82,716.12 in 2011
  • Assit. to Public Works Dir.   $62,347.37 in 2010; lowered to $59,645.04 in 2011
  • Dev. Engineer   $91,646.90 in 2010; raised to $96,176.76 in 2011
  • Health Prep   $82,850.77 in 2010; raised to $89,684.76 in 2011
  • Planning   $115,122.88 in 2010; lowered to $87,732.84 in 2011
  • Health Dept.   $86,391.99 in 2010; raised to $101,976.10 in 2011
  • Elections   $45,600.00 in 2010; kept at $45,600.00 in 2011
  • Animal Services   $67,893.06 in 2010; raised to $77,070.96 in 2011
  • Engineering Div.   $103,240.09 in 2010 lowered to $100,542.84 in 2011
  • Div. Director-CJSD   $91,661.77 in 2010; lowered to $88,676.64 in 2011
  • AAA  $58,471.87 in 2010; lowered to $57,093.99 in 2011
  • Public Relations   $65,989.77 in 2010; lowered to $107,371.93 in 2011
  • Clinical Services   $28,292.51 in 2010; raised to $88,065.04 in 2011
  • Family & Children   $85,162.88 in 2010; lowered to $67,905.16 in 2011
  • Health Admin. Svcs $86,391.99 in 2010; raised to $92,321.04 in 2011
  • Div. Dir.-CJSD  $94,114.66 in 2010; lowered to $89,201.89 in 2011
  • SS & EMP   $71,104.46 in 2010; lowered to $69,300.00 in 2011
  • Workforce Center   $87,562.88 in 2010; raised to $93,783.80 in 2011
  • County Attorney   $122,111.22 in 2010; lowered to $112,561.60 in 2011
  • IT Manager   $88,276.25 in 2010; raised to $92,227.33 in 2011

District Attorney's Office/Law Enforcement Directors

  • District Attorney   $149,215.56 in 2010; raised to $164,522.60 in 2011
  • Assit. DA   $136,251.24 in 2010; raised to $140,875.68 in 2011
  • Chief Deputy DA  $114,688.44 in 2010; raised to $116,204.90 in 2011
  • Senior Trial DA   $66,246.96 in 2010; raised to $71,931.98 in 2011
  • Sheriff   $87,900.08 in 2010; lowered to $87,700.08 in 2011
  • Chief Deputy Undersheriff   $107,911.12 in 2010; lowered to $106,293.84 in 2011
  • Division Commander   $102,542.47 in 2010; raised to $104,948.04 in 2011

All the above Salaries do not include the additional 25% in benefits received by County employees.

The biggest question that needs answered to the taxpayers of Mesa County is when the media reports no raises for Three years in a row during the economic downturn and over 19.5% unemployment locally, why do we see so many increases in certain Director's pay and yet in lower positions we see salaries cut drastically or positions removed??? Maybe just maybe this is the reason for the high turnover and low moral in many departments.

Another question needing answers are how can this model of government continue to be funded and supported??? VetTheGov believes attrition will continue within the agency especially when the higher salaried positions begin having to take more hits to their pay and benefits! What do you think???

Stay tuned to VetTheGov as the County budget for 2012 will be compared to last years budget!


Mesa County 2011 Budget at first glance.

VetTheGov has reviewed the Mesa County 2011 adopted budget found on website.  VetTheGov found some interesting trends of where your tax dollars are funneled and how they are appropriated. 

Beginning with the Landfill/Solid Waste department which for years was the talk of the town for actual good government business, has now become a negative on the balance sheet.  If you look at the this departments budget statement here you will notice that eventually all good government programs end up losing at some point.  The Solid Waste department will charge $3,875,000.00 for services with total expenditures for the program of $4,625,342.00 for a loss of ($750,342.00).  The positives for this catagory are required personnel which has stayed at Seven Full Time Equivalents (FTE's) and some nice cash reserves.

Animal Services department is budgeted for $912,871.00 with charges for services of $501,100.00 for another loss of ($411,771.00).  The animal services manager annual salary based on monthly gross wages is $111,345.72.  The department also has an animal services director which is paid $72,894.96 annually.  The remaining portion divided up for 13 other positions and operating expenses.  Who would of thought the dog catching business paid so well?  Average response time 28.2 minutes for priority calls.

Here is where it gets interesting!  The Human Services and Health Fund department's employ 306.58 FTE's out of Mesa County's 965.58 FTE's total.  Combined budgets total $28,203,268.00 in which a large portion of their revenue comes from Federal government grants.  The Human Services department has 220.83 FTE's with total appropriations of $21,927,203.00.  From this 21.9 million, $16,963,706.00 goes to salaries, benefits, and operating costs.  Only $4,908,165.00 makes it to actual clients.  See Human Services budget here.  There is no charge for services to clients.  The average Director gross salary is $87,515.00.

The Health Fund department has 85.75 FTE's and is appropriated $6,348,686.00 from the County.  They bill for services $848,465.00.  $6,276,165.00 of the budget is consumed by salaries, benefits, and operating expenses.  This department has around 35 nurses averaging over $60,000.00 in annual salaries.  The Medical Officer makes $147,671.40 gross annually.  Between the Human Services and Health Fund departments 28.2 million dollar budgets they only bill $848,465.00 for services rendered which is a 27.3 million dollar loser and where the County government becomes a welfare county.  See Health Fund budget here.

Last but not the least is the Criminal Justice divisions which consist of the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office, and Criminal Services departments.  Total budget of $31,257,277.00 and 347.50 FTE's out of Mesa County's 965.58 FTE's.  Total revenues into these departments budgeted at $7,648,031.00.  Cost of Criminal Justice/Public Safety services to local taxpayers $23,609,246.00.  Highlights of these agencies are as follows: Pre-Trial services to save over 122 detention beds compared to 114 detention beds in 2010;  Summit View Treatment Services 59% success rate for inpatient treatment down from 75% in 2009; average 388 daily inmates; 77 DUI arrests in 2010 down from 212 in 2009; 67 felony arrest in 2010 down from 188 in 2009; 7.2 minute response time for priority 1 calls in 2010 down from 8.0 minute response time in 2009; 9.5 minute response time for priority 2 calls in 2010 down from 13.2 minute response time in 2009; Citizen complaints in 2010 43 up from 26 in 2009; no information related to court cases from DA's office; Partner's reported 25,496 hours of community service and $134,625.00 in restitution paid.

Overall 67% of Mesa County's employees work in Human Services, Health Fund, and Criminal Justice departments.  VetTheGov sees a trend in regards to a workforce in Mesa County dedicated to pursuing a Social Justice agenda.

Read entire Mesa County budget highlights here.

Here are the 2010 annual salaries for Mesa County excluding the approximate 25% additional benefit package.

Kudos to the current County Commissioner's who proved a 10% across the board cut in the budget is possible.  Maybe our State and Federal governments could use this as a model proving it can be done now with little pain. 

Couple of interesting questions arise when we look at budgets and appropriations come to mind.  Do you feel you are getting your money's worth from the government?  Do you see any way for the government to get away from being a welfare redistribution model? If so, How? Do politicians handle your tax dollars wisely or are their hands tied to the social justice and fairness doctrines established years ago?

Stay tuned as VetTheGov will taker a closer look at the how our government redistributes our tax dollars!