County raising funds for new courthouse landscaping

ALAMOSA — Though the voter approved one-cent sales tax has made the new courthouse construction and jail expansion possible, it hasn't funded the entire project. Alamosa County officials are now turning to donations for assistance in completing landscaping for the new facility.

Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis said at Tuesday's courthouse meeting with community members that roughly 300 letters have been sent to people asking for donations. Any donation over $100 is eligible for a 25 percent Colorado tax credit and donors will have their name on a plaque inside the entrance of the justice center.

"When we bid the two projects, the justice center and the expansion on the detention center, we were shocked and concerned over the cost of the construction," reads the letter signed by Alamosa County Commissioners Darius Allen, Helen Sigmond and Michael Yohn. "The detention center bid was much higher than the architects expected. Thus, we had to trim back a few things. One of the budget cuts was the landscaping."

According to the letter that the county sent out, the funds will help purchase interior artwork along with trees, shrubs, planters, colored rocks, boulders, and a picnic pavilion that will be placed around the campus. Additionally, there a limited number of maple trees and benches available for purchase that will have "in honor of" or "in memory of" plaques.

An individual can purchase one of eight trees with minimum of a $700 donation or one of six benches with an $850 minimum donation. As of this writing one bench has already been purchased.

According to Alamosa County Chief Financial Officer Brittney DeHerrera the county was awarded a $73,196 grant from the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Committee in December for landscaping, however, the estimated project total is around $150,000.

After two change orders the contract total—excluding landscaping—for the courthouse with GH Phipps Construction Companies is currently $13,213,099. Approximately 12 percent of that will be paid with grants with certificates of participation paying for the remaining 88 percent. Roughly 70 percent of the collected sales tax is funding the certificates' debt service payments. The county still has an estimated $800,000 set aside in contingency funds.

"We're looking for money everywhere," said Sigmond at the meeting on Tuesday. "We really have been stewards of your dollars."

Donation forms can be picked up the Alamosa County Administration building at 8900 Independence Way. Interested donors can also contact DeHerrera at [email protected] or Alamosa County Executive Assistant Belina Ramirez at [email protected].