Updated: Nov 11
(Las Animas, CO) -- Tom Wallace is a Bent County tax paying citizen and a former Bent County commissioner.
He stood up at Thursday's meeting to read a carefully crafted letter with a few things he felt strongly about.
Concerning the recent allegations by former Bent County Commissioner Bill Long about his concern for the competence of Board Chairman Chuck Netherton, Wallace responded,
"I am deeply offended by the recent attempt by some of our good upstanding citizens in their attempt to besmirch, impugn, demean and destroy the reputation of one of the elected officials of Bent County....
To infer that two colleagues driving down a public street in broad daylight is elicit is absurd. Commissioner Netherton has done an outstanding job of representing the taxpayers of Bent County."
Wallace added that Netherton's accomplishments are too numerous to mention, only mentioning a few of them such as Netherton's leadership on a new housing project developed in Bent County and working to save the private prison.
Wallace also called for an end to Bent county footing the bill for Fort Lyon.
"It's Time for county's obligation to Fort Lyon to end. The claims that they bring revenue are false, sure there are jobs but no revenue to Bent County Treasury."
Wallace went on to say that for many years he's heard that the Bent county taxpayers question the funding of the Bent County development foundation. He added that with no real control over it and because of a recent scandal, he urged commissioners to quit funding it.
Citizens who were at Thursday's public meeting of the Bent County board of commissioners also expressed concern over the county funding a transit that benefits Ft. Lyon residents. A meeting participant asked if it was true that Ft. Lyon residents do not pay for the trips taken to La Junta and Lamar but Bent County residents must pay. Commissioner Kim MacDonnell responded that DOLA-the department of local affairs, pays for a quarter of the operations which covers the cost of the ride.
Meeting participants were concerned that Bent County was funding such a large portion of the transit operating costs when often empty or carrying just one or two riders.
Commissioner Chuck Netherton explained he's tried to ask that fewer trips be made to La Junta and Lamar in order to save the county money. He explained that ask did not go over well.
Commissioner Jean Sykes then told the room she's been collecting data to look at the numbers to understand it. Sykes said she combed over the budget numbers since 2013 to see what they have been paying for the service.
One man in attendance in the meeting stated he heard directly from former Bent County Commissioner Bill Long that the transit will not cost Bent County a dime, in fact it will make money for Bent County.
So then the question, why is Bent County paying for it?
Commissioner Netherton says it was rolled into the contract before they were there serving the county.
Netherton furthered Syke's figures show the cost to the county has been more than a million dollars, $1,013, 225.00 to be exact.
Netherton added that there were 13,066 rides on the transit last year. It works out to be a cost of $30.39 per ride which is the cost to the county.
One action was taken by the county commissioners at Thursday morning's meeting, a motion to decline a grant offered to continue the transit operation. Commissioner Jean Sykes made the motion with commissioner Kim MacDonnell declining to second, a second on the motion was made by Chairman Netherton.
The public may call in to listen in to any public meeting of the Bent County Commissioners at:
The audio from Thursday's meeting from the above story can be heard here in its entirety.
Anne Boswell, Colorado News YOUR Way