Saguache County Commissioners discuss pay raises for Sheriff’s Office

Photo by Mechel Meek Brad Crowell was hired as the new Saguache County Attorney by the Saguache County Commissioners on Sept. 6.

New County Attorney is appointed by the board

SAGUACHE — On Sept. 6, the Saguache County Board of Commissioners met to discuss several items. Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick went before the board for several issues. First was the purchase of a new fingerprint machine, a computer server upgrade, and building an enclosure fence on the back side of the Saguache County Jail for a prisoner exercise yard.

These expenditures were approved and to be paid from the public safety budget.

Next, Warwick discussed a raise for Saguache County Sheriff’s Office employees. Commissioner Tom McCracken brought a pay raise template that he devised based upon time in grade, education and other factors.

“I did try to use the salary scale as much as I,” said McCracken.

Warwick countered this idea from McCracken.

“I’m not going for an individually based pay increase. I want pay increases for our entire staff,” Warwick said. “We are having a hard time recruiting people and when we do we lose them to other agencies it is because we don’t pay enough. I’m trying to make it so we can retain the people we have.”

Warwick requested a flat pay raise of $4 per hour for all hourly employees except for the cooking staff for the jail who would receive a $3 per hour raise.

“I don’t agree with just giving everyone $4 an hour, without taking into account longevity,” McCracken said to Warwick.

When asked if he would consider McCracken’s salary scale, Warwick responded, “I do want it across the board. And I appreciate everyone giving it some thought.”

Commissioner Lynne Thompson motioned to “approve the sheriff's salary increase of $4 per hour for Sheriff’s Office employees with the exception of the pay difference for the jail cooks, the cooks would receive $3 an hour.”

The motion received no second and died for lack of a second.

After the death of the motion by Thompson, McCracken motioned for the pay increases as he lined them out. This motion was seconded by Tim Lovato. McCracken and Lovato approved and Thompson opposed. The raise was passed, 2-1, with modification.

Also of note was the appointment of a new County Attorney. Todd Starr, the current County Attorney is moving to another position in Grand Junction. The Commissioners unanimously voted to hire G. Brad Crowell, to the position. Crowell’s firm is located in Del Norte, and he has over 30   years of experience as an attorney in various law specialties, including land use and civil litigation.

Two community members brought before the board the issue of County Road AA, past County Road 63 which is not maintained by the county or BLM. According to landowners in that area, people have been camping on the road and driving into private property. The landowners have been maintaining the road themselves with their equipment. The landowners would like to install a gate to make the area only accessible to those who own property in that area.

“I think we need to do a site visit to see what is going on with this,” Lovato said.

According to the County Attorney, a gate can be added, but if the road is for the benefit of the public it cannot be locked. If it is not needed for public access, then it can be locked and all landowners are given a key.

Lovato said he was going to do a site visit to the area. The commissioners also requested more research be done to understand the access regulations, since part of the land is BLM and Forest Service land, before making a decision. 

The commissioners discussed the opening of a child care facility in a home in Crestone. This would be the first fully licensed child care facility in that area. The facility would need a letter from the county recognizing that address (home) as a childcare facility. The letter, which was approved by the commissioners, is to comply with HB 21-1222 which contains several new laws. The bill states that no special use permit is needed to run a childcare in a home. The childcare facility would fall under the same regulations as a residence.

“Family childcare is an essential in Colorado. Most families rely on family or neighbors, which is unlicensed,” said Executive Director of Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley Sherri Valdez. Most childcare available is for school-age children and these services are only available during the school year.

Also decided by the commissioners was for the county to pay for a right-of-way survey of the town of Sargent. It was decided to put out a competitive bid for companies to survey the entire town to identify the roads, and accessory spaces that are owned by the county. Concerned citizens expressed to the commissioners during the meeting that the roads are being encroached upon by some landowners.