DA seeks budget increase

ALAMOSA — The District Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial District gave its annual update and presented its budget request to the San Luis Valley Commissioners Association at their meeting on Monday.

District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen reported to the commissioners that felony filings for the 12th District have dropped significantly in 2018. However, she is not sure how recent events will affect those statistics moving forward. Thus far, there have been 31 trials in 2018.

The district attorney’s office is currently fully staffed with eight attorneys. This is a first during Olsen’s service. Another key issue has been the lack of funds to keep competitive salaries available for staff. As a result, the 12th Judicial District office has not been able to provide the salary increases that are available in other districts.

The 2018 funding request to the San Luis Valley Commissioners Association is for $1,109,569. The request was increased by $221,000 in order to accommodate increases in the cost of living, etc. The amount awarded in 2017 was $879,990.

The hope is that an increase in funding will help the office with current tasks as well as provide more ability to provide competitive options for district employees. The most recent challenge for the office has been keeping up with computing costs. This has resulted in slower than expected progress with the digitization of files.

There were other items of note from the presentation as well. The first was that the office is also working to put together a critical incident team that would service the district that includes the six counties of the San Luis Valley. Having this type of team directly available and in place would lessen the wait time in the investigation of cases that are considered critical. It would also eliminate having to wait on a team to travel to the Valley from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. There is consensus among staff that this would be an added benefit to the 12th Judicial District and the entire Valley.

There were two other requests that were heard by the commissioners. The first was from the San Luis Valley Small Business Center and the second was from the San Luis Valley Veterans Coalition. Both groups also expressed needs and challenges and urged the board to consider them as well. Final decisions on these requests are forthcoming.