Linda Statz is pictured with just two of her many M&M collectables featured at the Phillips County treasurer’s office. — Johnson Publications
So many hats, only 1 head — a day in the life of a county treasurer
Phillips County Treasurer Linda Statz wears two hats in her daily duties as an elected official. Not only is she the county treasurer, but also the public trustee.
Statz noted that the public trustee is unique to Colorado. It is the only state in the union with this designation. When Colorado was primarily a mining and agricultural territory and becoming a state, banks would loan money to entrepreneurs in order to help them get their businesses started. Sometimes, bankers would foreclose on these properties before the farmers could sell the corn or miners could assay the gold.
The state lawmakers at the time didn’t like this practice, so they created a public trustee as part of the state statutes. Among other things, this person acts as a neutral third party in the foreclosure process, assisting both the property owner and the lender.
Statz explained that a public trustee is an impartial middleman. When property is purchased, a deed of trust is held by the trustee as a lean on the property. The deed of trust becomes attached to the mortgage and is recorded with the county clerk. A deed of trust only gives the public trustee the power to sell property if a mortgage is not paid to the lender and the lender elects to foreclose on the property. The public trustee manages only the sale process.
There are 64 counties and all but the metro counties have the public trustee office connected with the elected county treasurer. The metro counties have separate public trustees appointed by the governor. Statz noted that she executes approximately 250 loan releases per year and starts anywhere from four to 20 foreclosures of which some are withdrawn.
In addition, the trustee acts on behalf of a corporation if it was not officially dissolved before its members are deceased. Statz said in her years of service, she has only done this one time.
Statz prefers the treasurer hat to trustee. She is proud of the fact that the office balances when closing the ledgers at the end of each business day. “One time we were over $20,” said Statz. “After researching the books for the day, we were able to determine who it belonged to and delivered it to them on the way home,” she added. Statz noted that she enjoys working with numbers and likes the challenge in reviewing, researching and recalculating to solve errors.
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