Hold Aichele accountable for problems in county treasurer's office

Friday, June 22, 2018 4:52 PM

In regards to the upcoming primary election for La Plata County Treasurer, I would like to make the important distinction between speaking "negatively" of an elected official versus holding one accountable for their job performance. In today's insidious political climate, facts do matter.

And the facts are that the treasurer's office, under Allison Aichele's leadership, has had some serious problems. As reported in the Durango Herald last year, the treasurer's office was found to be out of compliance with numerous state statutes. This occurred two years into Ms. Aichele's term. As a result, an accounting firm was hired to conduct a review on the treasurer's offices' procedures and books. According to this review, the accounting firm found a 10 percent error rate on Ms. Aichele's books, a higher-than-average rate, according to the firm conducting the review. Additionally, many internal control deficiencies were found. Due to these errors found in the treasurer's office, a "material weakness finding" was added to the La Plata County's overall audit (see La Plata County Commissioners meeting minutes from Sept 12, 2017). As a result of this material weakness finding, the county has been reclassified as a "higher risk auditee", which equates to additional auditing procedures requirements, and thus additional costs to the county and taxpayers.

The county will now carry this "higher risk" classification for two years. These additional expenses as a result of bad bookkeeping are disappointing.

Perhaps equally disappointing is the fact that when I emailed Ms. Aichele about this issue, she responded that in regards to the material weakness finding: "All Colorado County Treasurers, including my predecessor, and to include my successor, will have this same 'weakness'. It is inherent to the job."

But according to the meeting minutes referenced above, Finance Director Diane Sorensen remarked that in the 12 years she has worked for La Plata County, no material weakness finding has ever been reported in the county-wide audits. This does not square with what I was told by Ms. Aichele.

I expect more from my local elected officials when it comes to honesty and straightforwardness. For all of these reasons, I will be casting my vote for Tim Walsworth for county treasurer in the June primaries. I encourage all residents to look into this matter themselves, and I hope you will consider voting for Tim as well.

Kathleen O'Connor