ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A CBS4 investigation has learned Adams County is suspending the use of car washes for county vehicles for the next 30 days after officials discovered much of the county’s car washing business was going to a car wash owned by the county surveyor, Tim Thoms.
“We are committed to improving the standards of good government and using our resources wisely,” County Administrator Jim Robinson said.
The disclosure from Adams County comes in the midst of a CBS4 investigation into the car washing scandal. CBS4 learned that for years the county had been sending its vehicles to the Tailfeathers car wash at 120th Avenue and Highway 85. Thoms, who is an elected official, is listed as the agent and owner of the car wash. Attempts to reach Thoms Wednesday afternoon by phone were not successful.
“A county official cannot have a business relationship with Adams County outside the scope of their duties,” said Ruth Kedzior, a spokesperson for Adams County.
There was no contract between Thoms and the county and the deal was apparently a “handshake agreement.” It’s unclear just how much money Adams County has spent at Thoms car wash.
Adco officials said they first learned of the conflict of interest in July and notified employees that they could no longer get county vehicles washed at Thoms’ facility. But Wednesday’s notice to suspend all car washing came after even more problems surfaced.
County officials say they recently noticed that employees were also taking county vehicles to the I-Auto Wash at 78th Avenue and Washington Street, which is not owned by Thoms. But they noticed huge spikes in usage at that car wash between 2010 and 2011, suggesting fraudulent activity.
In January of 2010, the county racked up 416 car washes at I-Auto. But in January of this year, that number soared to 1,403. In March of 2010, the county registered 407 washes at the I-Auto facility. But a year later, in March of 2011, the county paid for 1,777 washes at the I-Auto car wash.
“The Adams County Sheriff looked into it,” Kedzior said. “They went there and met with the owners and tried to find out what this could be attributed to and they came up not knowing what happened.”
Kedzior acknowledged all those extra car washes have cost Adams County thousands of dollars.
“I have no idea how it happened,” Kedzior said.
Adams County has spent $224,393.72 getting county vehicles washed at seven different car washes in the last two years.
Kedzior said the Adams County commissioners met in executive session Wednesday and directed the county administrator to suspend all car wash activity for 30 days so changes could be made to current business practices. Adams County will be issuing a request for proposals for car wash services immediately, according to Kedzior.