No budget? Don't answer phones

February 17, 2009 8:41:28 AM PST
A county clerk in Colorado has a simple response to staff cuts caused by budget shortfalls: Just don't answer the phones. [SIGN UP: Get bizarre news sent to you]

El Paso County officials complain that the staff of the county Clerk and Recorder's office stopped answering calls last months. Instead, recorded messages refer all callers to the assessor's and treasurer's offices.

County Clerk Bob Balink had to lay off 19 staffers late last year because of budget cuts.

Treasurer Sandra Damron said her 17 employees have been "slammed" with calls. "We didn't know he wasn't answering the phones," she told The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

County Assessor Mark Lowderman told the newspaper that the clerk's office didn't give him any warning that callers were being referred to his office.

Lowderman and Damron say the policy is a disservice to people who have business with the clerk's office but can't visit in person or don't have Internet access.

Balink didn't immediately respond on Tuesday to an Associated Press e-mail seeking comment.

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