Grand County adopts public records policy, delays expense rules
The Grand County commissioners passed an amended public records policy aligning fees with state statutes and addressing multiple requests from the same party.
The board approved the new policy at its June 9 meeting and tabled another policy concerning employee expenses and reimbursements pending the review of a recommendation from the county’s auditor.
The new public record policy sets forth a flat rate of $30 per hour after the first hour for retrieval fees associated with fulfilling an open records request.
Thirty dollars is the statutory maximum.
County Attorney Robert “Bob” Franek previously explained that the rate would cover the wide variation in retrieval times for open records requests.
The county maintains its current 25-cent charge for copies after the first 10 pages.
The new policy also applies to multiple requests from the same party, whether on different request forms or the same request forms.
That provision will prevent the skirting of request fees by breaking requests into smaller increments that don’t exceed the one-hour cutoff for retrieval time.
Chairman Merrit Linke asked that the expense and reimbursement policy be brought back before the board next week.
A draft of the policy includes guideline for expenses including mileage, meals and lodging for employees and elected officials.
The policy encourages department heads and employees that are eligible for mileage reimbursement from both the county and another entity to seek reimbursements from the other entity. The policy clearly prohibits department heads and employees from receiving reimbursements from both entities.
The provision seems to address allegations that Commissioner James Newberry had received reimbursements from both the county and the Colorado River District to travel to district meetings.
Employees are also prohibited from charging mileage to drive from their homes to their places of employment, according to the policy.
The draft does, however, lack any direction on the oversight of mileage reimbursements for elected officials.
Newberry issued a public apology in May after additional allegations arose that he charged the county more than $1,500 for questionable mileage and mileage that he’d already been reimbursed for.
At a May 26 board of commissioners meeting, County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran, who approved Newberry’s reimbursements, said there was no way for her to track whether mileage was legitimate.
“I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing,” Curran said. “There’s a line on there that they just ask me to sign. I don’t have a way of verifying where you went or why you were there because you guys go do whatever you do.”
Curran added that there had been previous conversations between her and former commissioner Gary Bumgarner about whether approving those reimbursements should be her responsibility.
Linke and Commissioner Kris Manguso suggested they should develop a policy for the board of commissioners to approve one another’s mileage.
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