Sheriff’s requests irk commission
Hilkey asked to explain spending, consider cheaper options
The cost of keeping cops on the street is causing the Mesa County Commission to squirm a bit.
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey is being asked to explain the high cost of law-enforcement expenses such as patrol cars and laptops. Until he does, the commissioners are not apt to give their approval to his request of 60 laptops, at $4,196 a pop, and two patrol cars, at $24,993 each, for the sheriff’s new traffic enforcement team.
On Monday the commission tabled both items until having a conversation with the sheriff.
During last year’s budget process the commission did approve 55 laptops, not 60, and it did approve the two new deputies, but not their vehicles.
“The reason I brought it up is that number on the (request for proposal) didn’t match the number in the budget,” Commissioner Craig Meis said.
Five extra laptops would cost taxpayers an extra $20,985. Despite that, the cost for the laptops was under the approved county budget.
“The price on this is pretty shocking, I know,” said Steven Klepzig, IT director for the county.
The laptops would provide consistency among all patrol cars and the computers would be compatible with those in use by the Fruita and Grand Junction police departments, he said.
The second budgetary concern was the two patrol cars. The commission did approve hiring two more deputies for traffic enforcement, but had questions.
“I thought they might be able to incorporate this new service into the (existing) fleet,” Meis said.
Scott Forsgren, fleet supervisor for the county, said there might be some way to save the county a few dollars and find a couple cars within the existing fleet for the two new deputies.
“I think the potential is there,” Forsgren said. He added that he has yet to speak with the sheriff about vehicle assignments.
Meis said he would be on the rampage for the next year, harpooning bloated expense requests.
He said his motto for the year is: “Just because (the money) is there does not mean we need to spend it.”
Meis said he understood it is the duty of all Mesa County elected officials, including the sheriff, to manage their own department. But when it comes time to fund those departments, the buck stops at the commission level, he said.
“The No. 1 role of the county commissioners is the fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers,” Meis said.
The commission did not set a definite time to meet with Hilkey.