14th Judicial District DA hopes for salary increase for staff | SkyHiNews.com

14th Judicial District DA hopes for salary increase for staff

DA Brett Barkey
Staff Photo |

District Attorney Brett Barkey hopes to secure a 2 percent increase in staff salaries for his office’s 2016 budget.

The increase would amount to a total $20,338 increase of which Grand County would contribute $5,695.

Barkey made his case for the increase to the Grand County Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 22 meeting.

The top prosecutor for the 14th Judicial District already eliminated a part-time investigator position at his Grand County office and will contribute the $25,000 from that position to increasing salaries, he said.

“The reason I’m doing that is because recent studies have demonstrated that I’m paying my attorneys way, way less than even the public defender’s office pays their people,” Barkey said. “And it’s not even a matter of competing. It’s a matter of keeping their misery level from getting so significant that they leave.”

The 14th Judicial District employs 22 people across Grand, Moffat and Routt counties.

Its Grand County office employs three attorneys and three administrative positions.

The number of felony, misdemeanor and traffic cases in Grand County appear to be on track to fall again in 2015, according to information from the 14th Judicial District.

In Grand County, the district has seen 41 felony cases through Aug. 28, 2015, of which five have gone to trial. Last year, the district saw 91 felony cases, of which six went to trial. In 2013, the district saw 117 felony cases, of which five went to trial.

Of the felony cases in Grand County this year, 32 percent were classified as violent crimes, 29 percent were miscellaneous cases, 18 percent were property crimes, 14 percent were drug crimes and 7 percent were sex assaults, according to the district.

Through the end of August 2015, Grand County has seen 138 misdemeanor cases. The county saw 275 misdemeanor cases last year and 411 the year before.

The number of misdemeanor cases going to trial also seems to be declining. Only four misdemeanor cases have gone to trial in Grand County this year, compared to 10 last year and 18 the year before.

Barkey attributed the high number of misdemeanors and felonies in 2013 to the Snowball Music Festival held in Winter Park.

Grand County has seen 349 traffic cases through the end of August 2015, compared to 470 cases in 2014 and 575 in 2013.

Barkey said he couldn’t specify why the caseload has dropped, but added that he was “thankful” for the trend.

“I think everybody in the community can be thankful for that,” Barkey said. “We’ll have to see if that’s a trend that sustains or not.”

Grand County has consistently had the lowest caseload in the district in every category, according to district data.

Moffat County leads the district in 2015 felony cases.

Barkey also touted some of his office’s accomplishments over the last year, including securing multiple indictments from the district’s grand jury.

Barkey said he anticipates additional costs in 2016 for securing a new IT system for his office.

After the presentation, Commissioner Merrit Linke said that recent news about a possibly impending shortfall in the county budget could affect allocations to the district attorney’s office.

“We are in a situation where we have to go look at hard freezes on capital and cutting off some pretty serious expenditures for the balance of this year and looking at pretty hard wants versus needs for next year,” Linke said.

The board of commissioners will approve the district attorney’s budget in October.

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