Garfield County Sheriff’s Office cuts back on spending |

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office cuts back on spending

Pete Fowler
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said sign-on bonuses to entice new recruits are no longer needed because it’s an employer’s market these days.

The announcement seems to signal how the weaker economy has turned the local job market on its head and put employers more squarely in the driver’s seat. Sign-on bonuses of $2,000 were initiated for new hires in April last year when the Sheriff’s Office was struggling to find and keep employees.

Smaller bonuses were instituted for employees who recruited new hires. Vallario also lobbied last year for raises for deputies to combat the high cost of living in the area and higher pay elsewhere. He recently told Garfield County Commissioners he’s suspending all the referral and sign-on bonuses.

“At the time we did that a year ago, it was certainly an employee’s market,” he said. “We don’t need that right now. It’s clearly an employer’s market and that can save us a significant amount of money.”

He added, “We are in a much better position staffing-wise than we ever have been.”

The Sheriff’s Office is also going to improve its “healthy” overtime budget, Vallario said. Consolidating training efforts with other agencies could help save on overtime and other costs.

Vallario couldn’t be immediately reached Wednesday for more information. While struggling to fill vacancies last year, the Sheriff’s Office paid $590,291 in overtime to employees of all its departments including the jail. The sign-on bonuses cost $91,302 last year and referral bonuses totaled $5,000. Total Sheriff’s Office expenses last year were around $13.5 million, coming in less than the approved budget figure of $14.1 million approved by county commissioners, according to a county budget report.

The Sheriff’s Office also doesn’t expect to hire any new positions, except to fulfill a commitment to add a second school resource officer at the middle school in Battlement Mesa.

“Obviously I think we’re all in agreement that there will be no new positions,” Vallario told commissioners.

He said his office is also reducing costs this year by deferring painting of the jail for a year, considering private contractors to transport inmates, and possibly re-visiting jail food services. He said there’s a potential revenue increase through fees from a model traffic code.

Vallario said his office and judicial officials are working toward establishing a system where inmates can appear for initial court advisements by video instead of in person.

“That saves a lot of people a lot of time and a lot of money,” he said. “Also, every time we move an inmate there’s a safety concern.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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