City council votes to help county fund DA request

ALAMOSA — Alamosa City Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance that would provide $40,000 to Alamosa County to help provide funds for newly appointed 12th Judicial District Attorney Anne Kelly and her office.

City council approved the ordinance during its Wednesday meeting after discussing the issue in detail at the work session held before.

Kelly asked for additional funding at the San Luis Valley Board of County Commissioners meeting in late September. Kelly’s aim is to boost her staff and resources to recover from effects suffered during Alonzo Payne’s tenure as district attorney as well as previous issues in the district.

Alamosa County Commissioner Vern Heersink and Alamosa County Administrator Roni Wisdom spoke to city council to ask for its help and support.

“We appreciate everything you’ve done with the district attorney situation, but no good deed goes unpunished,” Wisdom said. “It is going to cost us additional funding in order for us to get back to where we need to be.

Wisdom cited the cost for a special election and the increase in the district attorney’s proposed budget as need for additional funds. Wisdom said the increase is more than 100%, increasing from approximately $1 million to a little over $2 million.

She also mentioned that costs at the jail may increase. As more cases are being tried, more people will likely need to be housed in Alamosa County Detention Center.

“The other part of this that we don’t talk about is the fact that (Kelly’s) doing a great job right now and that is increasing our jail population,” Wisdom said. “We used to average between 60-65 (inmates) a night at our jail. We are anticipating a hundred by the end of the year.”

Wisdom said food costs and other detention costs will rise as population there increases.

She also compared the nine to 10 public defenders to the five district attorneys currently working in the DA’s office. Wisdom said that there are more than 500 cases on the books to be tried.

“They definitely need some help,” she said.

Wisdom went on to say that she is confident Alamosa County can accommodate and figure out ways to procure funding in following years, but assistance is needed this year.

City council then made a motion to approve an ordinance to set aside the $40,000 to help the county.

The ordinance was unanimously approved and will be subject to a public hearing at the Oct. 19 city council meeting.

Councilman Charlie Griego said that helping the county made sense because ultimately it is helping the citizens of Alamosa.

“We represent the same people,” he said. “So, we should do it. If we can help out, I would surely support that.”

The help will be a one-time issuance.

Mayor Ty Coleman said he was happy to collaborate not just for the community, but to support law enforcement agencies in the city and county as well.

“I’m glad that council has made an agreement to collaborate and help fund the project,” Coleman said. “I believe it’s important to send a message to our community and our law enforcement officers for the hard work and dedication they put into doing their jobs on a daily basis.”