County outlines unauthorized contracts by former employee and concealed deficiencies in landfill inspection


Archuleta County issued the following press release Thursday. For more information, see the Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 issues of The SUN.
"Archuleta County is seeking a new Public Works Director to oversee several departments including Road & Bridge, Transportation, Weed & Pest, County Engineering, Solid Waste and Recycling. The discovery of improper oversight regarding the county landfill, lack of communication, improper budgeting for road projects and verbal commitments to spend funds not approved by county leadership, have opened this vital county position.
"On June 21st, 2023, pursuant to the Solid Waste Disposal Sites and Facilities Act, CRS §30-20-100.5, the Archuleta County Landfill received their annual inspection. Initially, the County received a Notice of Inspection marked with the result of ‘no violations observed’. The initial inspection form was then provided to County Manager Derek Woodman, at which time announcements were made and press releases written which included passing of the inspection for the first time in several years.
"On July 10th, 2023, the county’s most recent Public Works Director received the full compliance advisory report from the Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE) Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division. The report included six deficiencies that were concealed from county leadership. After receiving a call from CDPHE on July 15th, 2023, regarding an upcoming meeting to fix the discrepancies contained in the landfill report, it became clear neither Woodman nor county leadership had ever been provided the full report from the most recent Public Works Director.
"Following the discovery of this oversight and the failure to provide the results of CDHPE’s Compliance Advisory report to leadership, county staff have worked diligently to right all discrepancies and have corrected all but one to date. Work includes the spraying of a thick breathable cover over loose trash, water pooling prevention, training of new personnel and required storage of written policies and procedures on-site at the facility. Despite the deficiencies, the landfill did pass 39 of the 45 functional categories.
"For the past three months and unbeknownst to county leadership, a contractor has been working to repair damage to the landfill’s lining in cell 4A with no signed contract and likely on a handshake deal with the most recent Public Works Director. Once County leadership learned of this work without a proper contract, the project was stopped immediately. Work is set to resume with the same contractor once a proper contract has been approved and signed by the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). Due to this discovery, the landfill is projected to be closed for up to two weeks while the proper materials are ordered and put in place. More details will be provided to the public as they are received.
"In addition, several road projects will be impacted by recent findings. Pursuant to County Procurement Policy, Section 4.1.B.1, only the County Administrator or the Chair of the BoCC has the authority to sign a capital improvement contract for the County. In addition, pursuant to Section 4.1.B.2, only the County Administrator or the Chair of the BoCC has the authority to sign a service contract for the County if the total value exceeds $50,000. Findings show the most recent Public Works Director made a total of three unauthorized verbal agreements with subcontractors without any such contract, bypassing the necessary contractual steps required by the County. This would have resulted in over-budgeted expenditures of nearly $1 million. Quick teamwork and research by Woodman, the Interim Public Works Director and the Road and Bridge department put a stop to all projects that would have caused the budget breach.
"Unfortunately, this will result in the inability to finish several road projects. A project in the Woods neighborhood, which had already begun, will be completed in the coming days. However, additional scheduled work in both the Trails and Vista neighborhoods will receive additional materials and surface treatments to carry them through the winter months. Work in those areas will be completed next spring.
"The county thanks residents for their patience during these recent discoveries. More information will be released as it becomes available."