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Drug court makes case for funds

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Jeffco commissioners considering 2014 budget

By Ramsey Scott

A group that works with families dealing with substance abuse asked Jeffco commissioners on Oct. 15 not to cut its funding as the county considers the proposed 2014 budget.

Several people involved with the county’s Family Integrated Treatment Court spoke on behalf of the organization’s work during Jeffco’s first public hearing on its 2014 budget. FIT Court is funded through the Jeffco Human Services Division budget. 

Kris Ward, a guardian ad litem for children involved in FIT Court, said the organization had heard its funding might be cut.  

The county is set to approve the 2014 budget after a Nov. 26 public hearing. The county’s proposed operational budget for 2014 is $349.7 million, a 1.5 percent increase over 2013. That would include a 3 percent merit-pay increase for county employees. The county also is proposing $41.8 million in capital projects, $13.1 million of which would be part of a construction project at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport that would be reimbursed by grants. 

Commissioner Don Rosier said the county is faced with many tough discussions as it determines the best way to fund everything required.

“How do we fund, how do we move, how do we change?” Rosier asked. “We owe it to all of the citizens of Jefferson County to look beyond one year. We owe it to them to look two, three, four, five, 10 years down the line. We could say all is good now and walk away, and leave the problem for someone else. That’s not responsible government. That’s not being good stewards of dollars. It has to be more of a holistic approach. Yes, you heard a conservative Republican say ‘holistic.’ All the departments we have come to the table.”

Ward said she and other FIT Court members wanted to make sure the commissioners knew the importance of the program, which deals with parental substance abuse. It focuses on the treatment side rather than simply punishment.

“It’s truly a treatment-based court model. It’s the most evidentiary researched model with dealing with courts and drug addiction,” Ward said. “We deal with high-risk, high-need adults. When they enter FIT Court, we get them into treatment much quicker.”

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.