DA's office proposes raises

Commissioners unsure whether budget can support increase

The Moffat County District Attorney's Office requested raises for personnel from county commissioners at Monday's commission meeting.

Moffat is the last of three counties in the 14th Judicial District to approve a pay increase, a situation that leaves commissioners little choice but to approve their portion or a roughly $7,400 pay increase for employees.

According to statute, the three counties including Routt and Grand must contribute a degree of support for DA office functions.

Based on the number of individual county cases, Moffat County contributes 29 percent of the 14th Judicial Districts' budget while Grand and Routt counties support 28 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said commissioners shouldn't treat the request as a raise but as "help to pay for medical costs."

Moffat County realized a more than $20,000 savings when DA officials sought insurance outside of county policies, Roesink said.

"I feel guilty that I'm asking you to do this, because I know what you're going through with the budget," she told commissioners.

Commissioners Darryl Steele and Les Hampton said they oppose the pay raises on the grounds that the bulk of county employees were denied raises this year.

Commissioners also said they were under the impression that Routt and Grand counties agreed not to increase wages for DA personnel.

"I'm not going to be able to vote for a raise considering we've already asked county employees to take five furlough days," said Commissioner Darryl Steele.

Grand County has already committed to about $17,000 for pay raises for the DA office, a sum that is a higher percentage than Routt County's contribution.

The three counties are required to contribute an equal percentage of funds according to individual county caseloads.

Because of Moffat County's budget crunch, commissioners plan to ask Grand County commissioners if they are willing to donate the excess of their $17,000 contribution to help out Moffat County's embattled budget.

Offering competitive salaries in the DA office is crucial to keep employees on, especially when they can find better pay for the same work elsewhere, said Roesink.

"You know what city and county attorneys make," she said to commissioners. "I've had people quit because they can make more money somewhere else."

DA Office attorneys often earn a starting salary of about $40,000 a year, Roesink said.

Roesink added in a letter that she recently lost an employee who wanted to buy a house but couldn't afford to with her salary from the DA office.

"She is an excellent employee and it would be very difficult to replace her," she said. "Unfortunately she can make more as a waitress than she makes at my office."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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