BOCC gives initial OK on $5M budget for sheriff’s office
Since 2006, the number of calls to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has increased more than five times while the patrol staff has remained the same size.
Sheriff Brett Schroetlin presented this information to the Board of County Commissioners on Oct. 8 during budget discussions before asking for approval of a $5.1 million budget for 2020.
“Unfortunately, the county has taken the precedent that we aren’t Denver or Lakewood or New York City, but we are Grand County and Grand County has just as much inherent risk as these other places,” he said. “Allowing us to continue with the numbers we have in our system is going to get somebody hurt or killed.”
Ultimately, the commissioners agreed to a budget increase over last year’s $4.8 million, but reduced the office’s proposed capital budget, which includes vehicles and equipment, by roughly half.
Schroetlin noted that he didn’t expect everything to be solved at once, but rather he asked for a long-term plan to address it, starting with some investments next year.
The budget ask included an allowance for an additional part-time employee for the animal shelter and a new full-time dispatcher.
“Besides domestic violence and DUIs, you would not believe how many people call us about dog issues … and our animal control department is just inundated,” Schroetlin explained. “Secondly … we are trying to get to two dispatchers in the dispatch center at all times, which is super important.”
The sheriff also asked for $332,000 for four new patrol vehicles, a jail transport vehicle, a snowmobile and various equipment.
“In an 1,800 square mile county with 15,000 calls, we put on a ton of miles,” Schroetlin said. “If I don’t have vehicles that can go 110 mph quick to get to a CPR in-progress call or a house fire or domestic violence … then I can’t function.”
County Manager Kate McIntire noted that prior to the budget meeting, the sheriff had met with her, and together they cut his request by thousands of dollars, including holding off on additional jail personnel and a school resource officer.
However, both commissioners Rich Cimino and Kris Manguso felt further cuts were necessary, especially with the looming need for a $28 million public safety facility in the future.
“There’s only so much that can be funded,” Manguso said.
Commissioner Merrit Linke disagreed, saying he supported the full ask from the sheriff’s office and looked at it as an investment for the county.
After an hour of discussion, the commissioners agreed to fund $165,000 in capital costs and approved the rest of the $5 million budget unchanged.
The sheriff’s office will have a chance to appeal in November before the final budget determination is made on Nov. 12. The board approves the final budget on Dec. 10.
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