Sheriff shooting for more staffers
Sheriff Tom Dalessandri’s budget request is under the microscope as the Garfield County commissioners craft the 2003 budget.Dalessandri’s proposed budget includes an $800,000 increase for eight new deputies to fully staff the new 192-bed county jail. The added funds would also pay for three new positions: animal control officer, patrol lieutenant and patrol deputy.County administrator Ed Green’s budget shows a sheriff’s department budget increase of $2.45 million, a figure Dalessandri disputes.”It’s nowhere near $2.5 million, I’ll tell you that,” Dalessandri said Friday.”My budget doesn’t always jibe with theirs,” Dalessandri said, referring to the county administration.County elected officials and department heads have requested $47.2 million in spending for 2003, compared to the 2002 budget of $53.6 million. Green said the county plans to spend $6.4 million less now that the new Court House Plaza, road and bridge building and jail are finished.The 2003 mill levy, which is used to calculate the county’s share of property taxes, will remain at 13.65 mills, Green said.That’s a tax of $1,980 on a $500,000 commercial property or $332 on a $250,000 house.The county commissioners’ first budget workshop was held Oct. 11, and a public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20. In explaining the discrepancy between Dalessandri’s and Green’s budgets, the sheriff said he did not include $542,000 in jail rental fees, but Green did.Green described the rent, charged to other county offices as well, as an internal accounting transaction.As an elected official, Dalessandri runs his department free from direct county commissioner control. But the commissioners hold the financial reins, as they do for other elected officials, including treasurer and assessor.County Assessor Shannon Hurst and County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain requested $53,000 for a new computer system that would put both departments’ records on-line in real time.Hurst said there’s a need for the public to be able to access assessor’s and treasurer’s records via the Internet rather than over the phone or coming to her office.”This system would be for the public, and taxpayers,” she said.Hurst said the commissioners have already deleted the $53,000 request, but she and Chamberlain will return with an Internet hookup that will cost only $1,000.Hurst said the $52,000 difference between the systems is the cost of a dedicated website for the two departments. The $1,000 system will create a link between the county’s website and an private website that lists public records.The difference for users is the less expensive system is updated quarterly, while the expensive system’s information could be updated daily.Hurst said she is also asking for an extra administrative clerk to deal with new tasks required by state laws.One task is processing senior property tax exemptions.”We have 700 of those accounts,” Hurst said. Her department must also do a lot of tracking for Glenwood Springs’ Downtown Development Authority and its tax increment financing program.”Our four administrative clerks are going all the time,” Hurst said. The new clerk could also help the appraisal staff and mapping department.New staff positions were requested for other departments as well.A countywide report prepared by Green shows a full-time equivalent of 15.2 new positions sought for 2003, at a cost of $781,284. The budget also includes six positions presently vacant, including five sheriff’s deputies, at a cost of $300,610.In the road and bridge department, a total of 19 projects are slated in the proposed budget. Big-ticket items on the road and bridge list include:-$144,000 for hot mix and chip and seal for County Road 204.-$40,000 for dip repair and $30,000 for a retaining wall on County Road 109.-$38,000 for chip and seal on County Road 229.-$35,000 for a culvert on County Road 126.-$30,000 for work on Baxter Pass.Highlights in Green’s budget report include:-A 4 percent salary increase for county employees.-A 23 percent increase in health care costs. Employees will pay part of the increase.-The library system will retain its entire 0.025 sales tax again this year, which should bring in $1.5 million.-$209,000 in improvements and maintenance to the Garfield County Courthouse.-A $146,000 increase in the district attorney’s budget, which translates to a 14 percent increase; half of the increase is for office space.The landfill enterprise fund began the year with a $2.4 million fund balance, and is projected to end this year with a $2.6 million balance.The airport enterprise fund began the year with a $25,000 balance, and is expected to end the year with an $88,000 balance.
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