Week 1, candidates were asked: Please introduce yourself to the community in 250 words or less and explain why you are running for this position. Candidate responses are unedited.
My wife, Kristie, and I have called Grand County home since 2003 when I helped start Grand Mountain Bank. We have 2 boys who have grown up in Grand County. Will attends Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska and Ethan attends Middle Park High School. My career background is banking related with over 34 years of experience. Upon graduation from CU-Boulder with a finance degree, I worked for the US Department of Treasury as a bank examiner. I then moved to Salida, Colorado as the Chief Financial Officer for a community bank prior to serving as President of Grand Mountain Bank. After the sale of Grand Mountain Bank earlier this year, I left banking and am now working with Kristie in her real estate brokerage, NextHome Choice. I also currently serve on the non-profit boards for the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, Middle Park Medical Foundation and Moffat Road Railroad Museum Association. I enjoy the recreational opportunities that Grand County provides including skiing, running, biking and hockey.
I want to be Grand County Treasurer because the skills and experience I bring to the job from day one will continue to build on the efficiency of this office for Grand County citizens. The Treasurer position is known as the “County’s Banker.” While my background fits this part of the position, that isn’t the whole story. The Treasurer invests the County’s funds and currently the income on those investments is 40% less than it was last year. I will focus on improving investment income with an emphasis on safety, liquidity, and yield. The Treasurer interacts with the other elected officials and department heads. I will bring an unbiased approach to collaborate with these individuals for the betterment of the County. I also want to ensure that there is transparency from the Treasurer’s office in its operations and for everyone that it serves.
What are the 2-3 greatest financial challenges you believe are currently facing the County, and how will you work to help solve them?
Grand County will always be faced with budgetary constraints. As County Treasurer, with my experience in investments at the bank, I will work to improve the income on the County’s funds with an emphasis on safety, liquidity and yield. Current income is 40% less than last year. Higher income will provide additional funds for the County to provide the necessary services to the taxpayers.
Whether we like it or not, Grand County continues to grow which is leading to higher expenses from the increasing demand for services. As County Treasurer, we must focus on being efficient in our operations and adapt to growth without increasing the expenses, specifically in the Treasury department. This also includes managing the County’s money in the most efficient manner possible and obtaining the greatest return possible under the County’s Investment Policy.
As we have seen this year, an unexpected event caused a decrease in certain revenue streams for the County. This is an example of where the Treasurer can provide leadership to collaborate with other County officials to determine how the County Treasurer can help. I believe that it is important that elected officials have strong leadership experience in good and bad economic times. I will bring this experience of leading an organization through the worst recession since the 1980’s to the County Treasurer position. We don’t know what the future economy will bring, but it is critical to elect someone who has led an organization through difficult times.
Week 3: 1. If you are elected as treasurer, what will be your role in the Treasurer’s office to complete day-to-day tasks?
The day-to-day tasks are dictated mainly by the Treasurer’s calendar mandated by state statutes. The calendar aside, it is vital for a leader to stand in when others in the office are out and do whatever it takes to help the Treasurer’s customers. The customers include the taxpayers, other county departments, elected officials, taxing districts, and title companies.
2. Do you have changes you would like to implement or see opportunities to make the Treasurer’s office more efficient?
Bringing a fresh perspective to the County Treasurer’s office will allow for evaluating the current processes and create opportunities to make the office more efficient. I will determine if the “We’ve always done it this way” approach is the best and most efficient method. I will focus on improving the customer service that the Treasurer’s office provides, including working closely with the other county departments and elected officials in a cooperative, friendly manner.
I will also focus on improving investment income and improving the transparency through increased reporting. This improvement will include monthly investment reports, monthly activity reports, and monthly tax distribution reports. I also believe that it is essential for the County Treasurer to meet with representatives of each of the taxing districts at least annually to ensure that the tax distribution process is going well.
Week 4: What is the most important aspect of the Treasurer’s responsibilities?
The most important aspect of the Treasurer’s responsibilities is collecting property taxes and distributing those taxes to the taxing districts. These requirements are spelled out specifically in the Colorado constitution and state statutes. As a basis, the laws mandate certain items to be completed by specific dates for regulatory compliance. Included in this are tax notices, tax collections, and tax distributions. Because the Treasurer’s actions are dictated by statute, the next question becomes how to administer those actions.
As Treasurer, my focus will be on providing efficient, friendly, and superior customer service to every entity served–ranging from the individual taxpayer to the various taxing districts. I will also bring a new perspective to the office, which will evaluate the collection and distribution of property taxes according to the regulatory requirements.
Week 5 – 1. The property tax auction is an important responsibility for the Treasurer’s office. Do you plan to have the auction online or in person? What are the advantages of each?
The property tax auction’s importance is that it is the final step in the Treasurer’s efforts to collect taxes on real property. The tax lien sale allows taxing authorities to receive their budgeted revenue without waiting for delinquent taxes to be collected. If the property owner does not pay the property taxes before the tax auction, Grand County sells the tax lien at the annual tax lien sale. The highest bidder at auction becomes the tax lien certificate holder.
Grand County’s property tax certificate auction is currently happening online through a third party vendor at https://grand. coloradotaxsale.com/, which is also accessible through the Treasurer’s Office web page. It began October 1, 2020, and ends November 5, 2020. The property tax auction process is dictated by state statute and is explained on the tax sale site. The Treasurer’s Office page also includes a link to the description of Grand County Treasurer’s Tax Lien Sale Information. Although it needs some updating, it does explain the process.
The benefits of the online auction include the ability to garner more potential bidders over a longer time than an in-person event. The online auction is operated in a controlled manner with specific guidelines for the investor registration process, bid process, and closing process.
It also allows the bidder to remain anonymous to the public. Although a deposit is required, the funds are not transferred from an account until the following day. The current online auction also avoids the current Covid-19 crowd issue that has postponed other in-person tax lien sales across the country. Those that like the action and energy of live bidding might prefer an in-person auction. The benefit of an in-person auction is that it requires an upfront payment, as opposed to the potential for an online bidder not to fulfill their obligation due to insufficient funds. Regardless of the tax lien sale process, the process must be very transparent for both the property owner with the tax lien and the investor/bidder for the lien. If elected Treasurer, I will look into putting the listing of delinquent taxes online to improve this process’s transparency.
Please note the purchase of a tax lien does not result in the transfer of ownership of a property. The property owner has three years to redeem the tax lien before the investor is eligible to apply for a Treasurer’s Deed on the property. The Treasurer’s Office is also responsible for issuing the Treasurer’s Deed. There is a process that the Treasurer follows to ensure that proper notification occurs upon application for a Treasurer’s Deed. Before the issuance of a Treasurer’s Deed, the property owner may satisfy the tax lien by paying the amount of the delinquent taxes plus interest, payable to the tax lien investor.
Also note that employees and officials of Grand County and their families are not allowed to purchase at the auction. If elected, I will confirm appropriate internal controls are in place to monitor the auction process. As in any action taken by the Treasurer’s office, there always needs to be an assurance that there is no conflict of interest, and the process follows state statute.