Colo, official denies staff quit answering phones

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A county clerk in Colorado has a
simple response to staff cuts caused by budget shortfalls: Just
don't answer the phones.
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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