On Dec. 19, 2017, a group of concerned citizens stated their concerns during the [Saguache] Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting. Their main concern was the underfunding of the sheriff’s department and public safety. We, as your representatives as county commissioners, feel that the public needs to know both sides of the issue.
A budget process was incorporated by the county commissioners during the 2015 budget year and has been in place since. Department heads and elected officials have the opportunity to state their requests and justify their needs through worksheets for their department or departments during the process.
When the preliminary budget was presented to the commissioners, the sheriff’s departments had requested $644,548 for the sheriff’s portion and $470,183 for the jail portion of the budget. On the sheriff’s budget this is $25,593 over 2017 and $19,399 on the jail portion for the same year. These two amounts add up to over 31 percent of the Saguache County General Fund budget.
Since 2015, the sheriff’s budget (the two departments) has increased over $90,000. For the budget year 2018, the sheriff’s budget request was fully funded. Yes, no cuts were made!
A recent article in the Center Post Dispatch stated that the deputies in Saguache County were paid 30 percent less than Conejos County. This is false!
Citizens also questioned how funds that are being collected from the 5 percent excise tax on recreational grow operations in Saguache County are being spent. Year to date (Nov. 1, 2017), Saguache County has collected approximately $73,000. That money is earmarked for a code enforcement officer, youth, the landfill, and the general fund. Note: this is the first year that this tax has been collected.
We, as commissioners, feel that all of our staff is underpaid, and we have been addressing the issue. In 2017, they received a 3 percent cost of living increase and will receive another 3 percent increase for 2018. We have, and will maintain, a balanced budget and will be fiscally responsible which we owe to the citizens of Saguache County.
Please feel free to contact any of the commissioners if you have questions.
The Saguache County commissioners can be reached at the following numbers: Tim Lovato, 719-580-2563; Jason Anderson, 719-285-5878 and Ken Anderson, 719-588-4203.