GarCo sheriff refunds unused $2.89 million

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario again has come millions of dollars under budget and returned the excess money to the county general fund.

The Sheriff’s Department is returning $2.89 million after spending less than $16 million of the nearly $18.9 million in his budget last year, it said in a news release.

A year ago, Vallario returned $2.1 million that he didn’t use in 2009.

“We base our budget on what is needed, not wanted, and only spend what is necessary to maintain the safe operation of the Sheriff’s Office and provide the services that are expected by the community. If we don’t spend it, we return it, because it belongs to the taxpayers,” Vallario said in the release.

Vallario’s expenditures last year were 3.4 percent more than 2009 expenditures. His operations budget decreased 7 percent, but the overall budget went up 1.7 percent because the county added money for possible salary and benefit adjustments, especially for significant forecasted increases in health care, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Vallario said his budget includes unknown but anticipated costs, such as for wildfires, and completely unanticipated ones, such as the nearly $78,000 the jail spent for medical care for Phillip Amonette. Amonette is in custody after allegedly shooting a Rifle officer in his protective vest.

A second officer shot Amonette several times in return, and Amonette remains in a wheelchair.


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