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UPDATE: DA looks into Black Forest fire board's spending, finds no violations

Black Forest residents ask District Attorney to look into fi

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - UPDATE: The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office said on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 that it found no violations after reviewing the Black Forest fire board's spending at the request of some Black Forest residents.

Original Story

Black Forest residents have asked the district attorney to investigate its fire board's spending.

Gary Watson is one of several residents who filed affidavits regarding suspected malfeasance on the part of the Black Forest Fire Board with the District Attorney's Office. Board member Rick McMorran also filed with the District Attorney's Office.

Watson and McMorran said the fire Board has violated Colorado Revised State Statute 29-1-110 that says local governments cannot spend or contract to expend any money that involves the expenditures of money in excess of the amounts appropriated.

The fire board budgeted $25,000 for legal fees for the fiscal year. However, it has spent $117,000 in legal fees. The board said it spend a large portion of that on a public relations firm, an independent investigator and attorneys. The board decided to hire the investigator to look into Fire Chief Bob Harvey's actions during the initial hours of the Black Forest Fire after questions raised by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa to KRDO NewsChannel 13.

Watson said he wants to hold the board accountable for its spending.

"I thought long and hard about it because it's a serious step and to call for an investigation, I'm not going to be part of the investigation, and I felt it was my duty to the community and to the people that want to know where that money went," said Watson.

Spokesperson Lee Richards with the District Attorney's Office said this has been looked into.

"While the statute mandates an investigation whenever an affidavit is presented, an initial review (of this affidavit) indicates a finding of malfeasance is questionable," said Richards.

Fire board member and treasurer Walter Seelye said Tuesday he doesn't know how the board will cover the additional costs. He said he looked over the budget twice and hasn't been able to identify other places in the budget that can be cut.

Other board members did not return KRDO NewsChannel 13's requests for an interview.

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