DA's funding increased in SLV budget

VALLEY Though many agencies are receiving less than they requested, the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association (SLVCCA) approved a 15.8 percent increase for their 2018 budget at Monday’s meeting. The budget totals $1,191,240.68, up from last year’s $1,028,592.99, yet short of the $1,333,286 asked for.

The SLVCCA is made up of the six counties in the Valley and funds agencies that work throughout the region such as CSU Extension, South Central Colorado Seniors and the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley. Each county allocated the money based on population and their own county’s budget.

Of the total, Alamosa County is paying $416,534, up from last year’s $351,835. Conejos County is giving $21,812.90 more this year at $196,089.90. Costilla County’s total went from $89,044.99 to $100,714.78. Mineral County’s contribution increased just $2,117 to $24,500 while Rio Grande County is giving $332,415 instead of last year’s $277,666 and Saguache County raised their funds given from $113,387 to $121,087.

Though the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office didn’t receive the $942,761 they asked for in September’s meeting, at $879,990 they were granted $165,600 more than last year and remain the largest budget item.

Mineral County budgeted the DA’s proposed $20 per citizen. Others used the $20 as a starting point and adjusted as needed, with Saguache giving $16 per citizen, Conejos County giving $18 per citizen and Costilla County giving $15 per citizen. Alamosa County and Rio Grande County used a formula based on assessed valuation and population, each giving roughly $20 per citizen.

Rio Grande County Commissioner Karla Shriver pointed out that while it’s not written on the budget, her county provides free rent and utilities for the DA’s office in the courthouse. Shriver estimates that savings equals roughly $26,000 a year.

Additionally, at the end of the meeting the SLVCCA approved drafting letters of support for future DA grant applications.

“I would just like to thank everybody,” said District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen. “I know we have had some tough and difficult conversations over the last couple of months. This is a community partnership and I really appreciate everybody taking community safety and the issues we have with crime seriously.”

Six of the 19 agencies receive less than last year and the rest will get the same or more. Like last year the Rio Grande Water Shed is the smallest line item on the budget. They receive $1,000 again from Costilla County alone, even though they requested $6,000.

The two newest agencies on the budget are the San Luis Valley Weed Management Association and the San Luis Valley Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Instead of the requested $4,678, SLV Weed Management Association receives a total of $2,562.90 from Alamosa County and Conejos County.

To help promote the Valley as an ideal location for a young industry, SLV UAS requested $9,000 yet only Alamosa County will give them $3,000. The other counties said they don’t quite see the benefit in contributing yet and wish for more Valley-wide representation in the agency.

“We know this is ongoing and there hasn’t been a lot of activity but we do think this is very valuable for the Valley,” said Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn.