Commissioners eye revisions to nepotism, favoritism policies
The Grand County Board of Commissioners is considering recommendations from the county’s personnel committee regarding policies on ethical standards and nepotism.
The board heard the committee’s recommendations at its June 9 meeting.
The recommendations follow a series of workshops held by the board regarding nepotism and favoritism. The workshops were scheduled in response to citizen concerns that nepotism was creating an unhealthy climate in Grand County government.
The committee recommended adding a section titled “Ethical Standards of Conduct” to the county’s personnel manual.
The section would mandate that all employees adhere to the ethical standards present in the manual as well as Colorado Revised Statutes and parts of the Colorado Constitution dealing with ethics.
The committee also presented a recommendation on adding a “favoritism” section to the county’s current nepotism policy.
Grand County allows employees to work directly beneath or above family members, so long as one does not “audit, verify, receive or be entrusted with monies received or handled by the other family member.”
The recommended addition lays out ground rules for an employee altering the personnel or payroll records of a family member, as well as encouraging emlpoyees to “guard against” relationships that create a conflict of interest or perceived favoritism.
“At this point it’s up to the board for you guys to change it, “ said Chris Baer, the committee’s chairman. “I mean, this isn’t necessarily what needs to be in writing. This is our suggestion or recommendation that we came up with. You guys fine tune it and implement it.”
County Attorney Anthony “Jack” DiCola asked the board to consider whether changing the existing policy was necessary.
“I think you really need to think about ‘If its not broke don’t fix it,’” DiCola said. “I mean, what’s broken now?”
Commissioner Kris Manguso said she felt the policy should prohibit officials from directly or indirectly wielding supervisory, appointment, dismissal or disciplinary authority over relatives.
Manguso cited policies from Adams and Pitkin counties that prohibit such conflicts of interest in the county’s chain of command.
“I’m just going to call a spade a spade,” Manguso said. “I think what the issue around here is there’s a lot of people that would like to see Grand County adopt a code of ethics that included something like this.”
All three commissioners agreed that, if such a policy was implemented, it would not apply retroactively to current employees.
“I think that would be wrong to do that, and I think that legally we would be proved wrong to do that,” said Commissioner Merrit Linke. “We would probably suffer financially for that.”
At the end of the hearing, citizen Ted Kaplysh said that favoritism, not nepotism, was the primary issue in Grand County government.
Kaplysh referred to employees that “ give jobs, give benefits, give perks, give enhanced lifestyles to various people in the government because of their relationship.
“You’re spending a lot of time on nepotism, which really isn’t the problem,” Kaplysh.
The board did not set a date for when it will take up the county’s nepotism and favoritism policy again.
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Grand County voters will be deciding on a number of issues this November from tax increases to school board memberships. Ballots were mailed out last week and Election Day is Nov. 2.