County OKs $400K for DA
Post Independent Staff
Despite having her credit cards yanked by Garfield County, 9th Judicial District Attorney Colleen Truden got the OK for a $405,809 supplement to her budget Monday.
County officials canceled a number of office credit cards because Truden was not meeting accounting requirements.
Letters from County Finance Director Patsy Hernandez and County Manager Ed Green on July 8 took the embattled first-term district attorney to task for spending more than half her budget since she took office in January and not submitting invoices on time.
Truden has come under fire since nine attorneys and staff left shortly after she took office. She has also drawn criticism for hiring her husband for computer work in her office.
In June, Garfield County Commissioners took her to task for spending two-thirds of her budget in the first five months of her administration. Truden countered that she needed the money to cover salaries to fill eight vacancies in her office.
At Monday’s public hearing on the budget supplement, the commissioners questioned Truden about her spending. She didn’t attend the meeting, speaking to commissioners via telephone.
Commissioner Tresi Houpt asked Truden if the extra $405,809 would give her enough money for the rest of the year.
“As of June, the amount (you) expended far surpasses what you have left,” Houpt said.
Without actually offering a yes or no response, Truden said she would make a return trip to the commission in the future to request $73,920 in rent that was not built into her budget.
Truden has shifted some of the blame for her budget woes on former DA Mac Myers, who Truden said prepared the 2005 budget without consulting her.
The $405,809 Truden requested from the county is 68 percent of a total $602,000 in personnel costs, Garfield County’s share of Truden’s budget. The 9th Judicial District includes Rio Blanco and Pitkin counties, which also contribute to her budget.
On further questioning from Houpt, Truden said she felt confident the remaining budget funds could carry her through the end of the year.
Before casting her vote with the other two commissioners, John Martin and Larry McCown, to approve the funds for Truden, Houpt said “There will be quite a debate” if and when Truden comes back to the commissioners for another budget supplement.
Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510
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