Judge rules Stevens County Commissioners owe roughly $57,000 interest in homelessness funds case

Staff Writer

Spokane Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno ruled today, Sept. 25, that the Stevens County Commissioners must pay roughly $57,000 in interest on the $130,000 they misspent from the homelessness fund and have since repaid. She said a federal law requires the interest to be paid before the principal.

That is a final judgement on the bond issue brought forward by George Ahrend, a Moses Lake attorney who was appointed by Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen to pursue the civil suit. Commissioners Wes McCart, Steve Parker and Don Dashiell were represented at Friday’s hearing by Alison Turnbull from the Spokane firm of Kirkpatrick & Startzel.

Moreno did not say whether the commission was finished in office, although she stated at the last hearing that her finding that they were liable for unconstitutional gifting of public funds to two private projects violated their bonds, which meant they could no longer serve. Rasmussen contends that Moreno’s ruling triggered a state law that requires the three offices to be vacated because the commissioners have not fulfilled their oath to uphold the constitution or their bond pledge to act lawfully.

The commissioners argued through Turnbull that the law to vacate could not be triggered until there is a final judgement. Rasmussen, through Ahrend, obtained a restraining order a couple weeks ago to keep them out of office, or from fulling their official duties, until there was a final judgement. He said a quo warrant action is ready to be heard if they do not now step down. The quo warrant is a special form of legal action to get offices vacated, and force defendants to cover attorney fees.