Garco OKs $400K for Truden budget
Garfield County yanked credit card privileges for the office of embattled District Attorney Colleen Truden, but then gave her more than $400,000 in additional funds Monday.Commissioners approved the supplement to her budget at a public hearing after Truden told the county she was confident the money would last her until the end of the year. Truden did not attend the meeting. Rather, she spoke with commissioners via telephone.County officials canceled a number of office credit cards because Truden was not meeting accounting requirements. Letters from County Finance Director Patsy Hernandez and County Manager Ed Green dated July 8 took the first-term district attorney to task for spending more than half her budget since she took office in January. They also claim she did not submit invoices on time.Truden has come under fire since five attorneys and three staff members left shortly after she took office; she has also been criticized for hiring her husband to do computer work in the office. An effort to recall her from office is under way.In June, Garfield County commissioners took her to task for spending two-thirds of her budget in the first five months of her administration. Truden countered that she needed the money to cover salaries to fill eight of the vacancies in her office.At Monday’s public hearing, commissioners questioned Truden about her spending. Commissioner Trési Houpt asked Truden if the extra $405,809 would give her enough money for the rest of the year. Without actually offering a yes or no response, Truden replied she would be making a future trip to the commissioners to request $73,920 in rent that was not built into her budget.Truden has shifted some of the blame for her budget woes on former District Attorney Mac Myers, who Truden said prepared the 2005 budget without consulting her.The $405,809 Truden requested from the county is 68 percent of a total $602,000 in personnel costs, or Garfield County’s share of Truden’s budget. The 9th Judicial District comprises Garfield, Rio Blanco and Pitkin counties; she also has requested, and received, funds totaling approximately $191,000 from the latter two governments.On further questioning from Houpt, Truden said she was confident the remaining budget funds could carry her through the end of the year.Before approving the request with fellow commissioners John Martin and Larry McCown, Houpt said “there will be quite a debate” if and when Truden comes back to the commissioners for another budget supplement.
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