Gov. Polis signs bill ending century-old appointed public trustees

Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday complete more than 100 years of patronage hiring tradition when he signed a bill stripping public trustee appointments from his office and affected the jobs to the several county fiscal officers.

Three other efforts to end the appointments in the state’s 10 largest counties — 52 other counties not yet trust on its fiscal officers to do the public trustee job — have failing over the last seven years, mostly from political partiality and heavy lobbying by those who held the jobs. But a Democratic-controlled legislative assembly, combined with a governor who saw the appointments as gratuitous and not responsible to the residents they served, helped shuttle it through this year with batrust a squabble.

In a Facebook broadcast, Polis called House Bill 19-1295 “a bill to with pride reduce my power in an area that doesn’t make sense for the governor to supervise. … These positions should not be patronage positions for this governor or any other governor.”

Public trustees run the state’s legal proceeding system, handling works of trust and the auctions that sell the houses impacted by them. The appointed trustees — from Weld, Pueblo, Jefferson, Larimer, Arapahoe, Adams, Douglas, El Paso, Boulder and Mesa counties — operate autonomously, respondent only to the governor. There were no limits to how long they could hold the post or how often they could be re-appointed.

“This new law will help ensure more accountability for Coloradans. It’s about good government and will help save county remunerator money,” House Speaker and bill co-sponsor KC Becker aforementioned in a statement. “I’m proud of the bipartisan work that went into getting it done.”

Elected fiscal officers handle the trustee job in 51 other Colorado counties, piece Weld County’s fiscal officer is appointed by its board of commissioners. Denver’s public trustee job is held by its elective clerk and recorder, and Broomfield County commissioners appoint theirs.

Previous efforts to ditch the appointments were mostly the result of a 2012 Denver Post investigation into the trustee offices that led to the forced resignation of 9 appointees and the retirement of some other. Five were eventually rehired.

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Unlike those previous legislative efforts, however, the current bill had Polis’s support from the beginning and was chiefly sponsored by Becker, a Boulder Democrat, and came about a year after a fiscal crises in the Boulder Public Trustee’s office nearly gutted that office.

As a result, the measure met with little resistance, with only two votes cast in the House against it and unanimous agreement in the Senate.

With legal proceedings in Colorado at their last level in at least 15 years, legislators questioned why the appointees — each of whom is paid $72,500 a year — were needed anymore.

The transitions are to occur by July 2020. on with the new title of public trustee, the fiscal officers in the 10 counties will each receive a $12,500 regular payment. The appointed trustees are not barred from applying for a job with the fiscal officer to handle the same work.

Outgoing Douglas County Public Trustee Christine Duffy, who is president of the Public Trustee Association of Colorado, and Yuma County fiscal officer Dee Ann Stults, president of the Colorado County fiscal officers’ Association, would not comment on the bill and its potential impact.