Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Steamboat Springs Sheriff Gary Wall and Routt County commissioners continue to trade letters about county policies.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners sent a letter to Wall last week in response to a letter Wall sent to Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak. Wall's letter to Stahoviak was a response to a letter she wrote to him.
On Monday, commissioners said they felt sending a second letter to Wall was necessary because Wall had not adequately addressed concerns about his approach to county policies.
"Unfortunately, because of (the letter's) generality and qualifications, we still do not know which county policies you believe do not apply to Sheriff's Office employees," the board's letter to Wall said. "As we stated in our letter to you of June 19, the Board of County Commissioners needs to know which policies you believe apply and which you believe do not apply to your department before we consider your 2008 budget because the answer will directly impact how we will review your budget request."
In June, Wall announced he would allow deputies to use their patrol vehicles for personal use, sparking the dispute. County policy does not allow employees to use county vehicles for personal use.
The board's most recent letter requests Wall sign his initials on 18 county policies stating whether he accepts the policy or whether he has his own policy. In the case that Wall has a differing policy, the board has asked Wall provide a copy of that policy.
Commissioner Doug Monger said he understands Wall has the ability to create his own policies but that the board is concerned about possible liability issues.
Wall "runs a different enforcement. We understand that. We just need to make sure his policies are covering certain rules and regulations," he said.
The board has referenced county policies about pay and compensation, employee substance abuse and alcohol testing, compensatory time agreement and motor pool policies amongst others.
"I'm assessing what to do," Wall said.
In addition to the letter, the board attached a lengthy memo from County Attorney John Merrill urging the board and Wall to reach an understanding soon.
Merrill's memo also addresses Wall's stance that the Sheriff's Office takes precedence over the county in the case of conflict.
"There is no 'easy' answer to the question considered," Merrill's memo states. "However, in most cases, the board's budgetary authority, its exclusive authority to contract on behalf of the county and its authority to make rules concerning the use of county property will ultimately give it primary authority."
Wall said he is considering retaining an attorney to represent him in future proceedings.
"Since I got a legal brief from the county's attorney, perhaps I should acquire legal counsel," he said. "It would appear Mr. Merrill can't represent me since he represents the board."
The board's letter asks for Wall's response by Aug. 17.
"I'll respond to them, but I'm in the process of assessing what they wrote," Wall said.
-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org