BOONE, Colo. (KRDO) -- Former Boone Mayor Rita Rhoads drained the town’s bank accounts of more than $400,000 after she claims she was ousted from her position and locked out of town hall.
For the last three weeks, since Rhoads closed the bank accounts, the town hasn’t been able to pay its overdue bills, totaling about $14,000, from electricity to trash services.
“We've got collections now for several accounts that weren't paid, so it's kind of stopped the town from being able to pay their bills,” said Crystal Breckenridge, the current mayor of Boone.
Even paychecks to city employees have bounced or arrived late. Breckenridge said the process of opening a new bank account has taken longer than expected due to federal regulations.
Rhoads said she closed the town’s three bank accounts in the interest of the town and its residents.
“It's the only way to save the town,” Rhoads said.
In February, the mayor and nearly every city councilmember and staff position resigned, except for Rhoades. As the only remaining town official she took over as mayor.
“All I tried to do is step up to keep the town running,” she said.
But her time in office was tumultuous, as Boone residents protested outside her house and asked her to resign for not following state and local bylaws.
“You've got to do things for the town, not what you want to do,” Breckenridge said of Rhoads. “I think that's where things went wrong.”
After five months as mayor, Rhoads said she was pushed out in a “hostile takeover.” She said she was locked out of the town hall. In a text to an employee, she said she was “no longer mayor” because she “can’t stand it any longer.”
That same day, Rhoads went to the bank and closed the town’s accounts.
The three checks, totaling more than $400,000 were made out to the Town of Boone. Rhoads then took the checks home but said she never took any money for herself.
“It was in the best interest of the town,” Rhoads said. “I will guarantee if that wasn't out to the town of Boone and that wait period wasn't there, that money would not be there.”
Rhoads claims she closed the accounts to avoid misappropriation of funds. She said she even called local authorities to investigate the town’s financial accounts. Breckenridge said she has never misappropriated funds but that the town of Boone has a history of previous mayors not paying bills.
“We've talked about having an audit because we had a mayor in the past that did that,” Breckenridge said. “But that has nothing to do with us.”
After Rhoads left the mayor position, Breckenridge was asked to return as mayor after she resigned in February. She said she is only holding the position to help the town run elections in September. At that time, a new mayor and six new council members will be elected.
“We have a few people that are running that have lived in this town a long time and their purpose for running is they want to try to get things better in Boone,” Breckenridge said.
Rhoads claims she still holds her council seat until 2026 so she doesn’t need to run again.
“I will never be done with things,” Rhoads said. “Not as long as I am here and in this town.”