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Officials: Case's Cost Will Be Negligible

August 28, 2003|Steve Henson

The financial impact of the Kobe Bryant case on Eagle County is expected to be negligible, officials said Wednesday.

"We've had calls from worried taxpayers," said Jack Ingstad, Eagle County administrator and budget officer, "and we want to set the record straight. The impact of this case is insignificant."

Ingstad said that the county budget is about $100 million, with more than $40 million in reserves, making the $30,000 spent to date on the Bryant case "a drop in our budget bucket."

The Eagle County Board of County Commissioners pledged $105,000 in July for District Attorney Mark Hurlbert to use for expenses related to the Bryant case. Hurlbert has spent about $20,000.

Legal experts estimate that the cost of a trial could climb to $1 million or more, far less than high-profile trials that include a great deal of forensics evidence and require the testimony of a battery of experts. Los Angeles County spent about $9 million on the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial, about $4 million of which was spent by the district attorney's office.

District attorneys throughout Colorado have pledged to support Hurlbert with manpower to write and respond to motions. A limited amount of financial help could come from surrounding counties, although several -- including Denver -- are experiencing a budget crunch.

By contrast, Eagle County is among the wealthiest counties in the nation with an assessed property valuation of more than $2 billion.

"This has been a very healthy year for us," Ingstad said. "Skier visits are up. Airport passenger numbers are up. Sales tax revenue is up. And the desire to own property in this county has never been higher."

-- Steve Henson

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