Garfield County Jail plans for tight budget |

Garfield County Jail plans for tight budget

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Lou Vallario told Garfield County commissioners he’s already working on tightening the belt financially in response to possible continuing economic downturn.

Near the end of a brief talk between Garfield County Sheriff Vallario and county commissioners Monday, Commissioner John Martin said, “We’re just trying to get ready for the future, which is a downturn in the economy as well, so you can see a little tightening up here and there. We want to make sure you’re on board with that.”

Vallario said, “We’re already working on that. We realize we were fortunate this year in Garfield County but depending on how long this economic thing takes to turn around, we need help tightening belts. We’re already working on this and looking at things in the future.”

Both joked about the news Monday that the federal government gave insurance giant American International Group $30 million more in aid in hopes of preventing AIG’s bankruptcy and staving off further economic problems. The additional cash came as AIG reported a record quarterly loss of $61.7 billion.

“If you were AIG you’d have another $30 million dollars,” Martin joked.

Vallario joked, “Maybe we could figure out how we could become a bank like American Express did and then we’d get all kinds of money.”

Vallario offered a brief update on goings-on at the county jail and said Garfield County Sheriff’s Office staffing is in much better shape than it has been. He said there are still some job openings, but the jail had been operating with some “minimum shifts” of seven people.

“Now we have a little more breathing room with nine or 10 or 11 sometimes,” he said. “We’re getting up to speed where we need to be there to maintain safety and minimize the overtime and the impact on the detention staff.”

Vallario also said his office continues to make changes at the jail. A full-time employee is focusing on jail programs again, where before that was a “collateral assignment,” he said.

“The amount of programs we’re bringing in with regards to everything from GED programs to religious services really warranted a full-time person,” he said. “And we’re bringing in additional programs that we weren’t able to manage before,” Vallario said.

He added the jail is doing some things internally to improve operations and make things more consistent.

County administrator Ed Green asked Vallario to participate in an upcoming budget discussion of “big-ticket items” including changes at the Sheriff’s Office building.

He also recommended the Sheriff’s Office “recycle” older vehicles into other county departments. He said Vallario’s office is set to receive about 12 new vehicles, and re-using the old ones for a year or two could save the county about $250,000 a year.

Vallario supported the idea, saying it’s great because the Sheriff’s Office gets rid of most vehicles around three years and 100,000 miles when they may still have value for other uses.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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