Sheriff, DA budgets intact in 2014

The 2014 Mesa County budget ended up not having the deep cuts District Attorney Pete Hautzinger and Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey feared.

This fall, Mesa County administration told all department heads and elected officials to report what a cut of up to 5 percent in their budgets would do to their departments. Hilkey and Hautzinger each said such a cut would be detrimental and could mean the loss of two or three prosecutors in the DA’s office or the end of the sheriff’s work release program, which offers an alternative to jail and allows inmates to work during the day and spend nights at the Alternative Sentencing Unit at Sixth Street and Pitkin Avenue.

Before budget adoption Monday, Mesa County commissioners decided to keep the DA and sheriff’s office budgets essentially flat in 2014, giving the sheriff’s office a budget of $22,025,373 in 2014 and the District Attorney’s office a budget of $3,296,308.

The sheriff’s budget is $8,775 less than projected costs for the department in 2013 and the District Attorney’s budget for next year is $128,157 ahead of its projected department costs for 2013. The adopted sheriff’s office budget for 2014 shows an increase in law and detention funding and a dip in work release spending, but those amounts will be adjusted by the end of the year to make funding even in 2013 and 2014 and keep work release intact, according to Mesa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Benjamin.

Commissioners were able to find money in the budget to keep the two departments nearly level with 2013 funding in 2014 by dipping into the county’s general fund balance, according to Mesa County spokesman Ryan Cook. The fund balance still contains $11.2 million set aside as reserve money in 2014. Twenty percent of revenue and funds left over from last year’s general fund will be reserved in 2014, down from 20.58 percent for 2013.

“After considering the needs of the community and departments, it became a priority of commissioners to keep the DA and the sheriff’s office whole,” Cook said.


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