“The power under the constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

~ George Washington (1787)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Law Enforcement budget discussions in the news

With the 2013 county budget coming up for finalizing (discussed here in a previous post), the Union-Bulletin has printed a series of items opening discussions on the budget for the County Sheriff.

Briefly, that budget has been a point of concern for the Commissioners, especially given the cost overruns by Sheriff Turner in his 2011 budget, and the sharp disagreements between the Commissioners and Sheriff Turner during the 2011 run up to completing the 2012 Sheriff Budget.  Those resulted in an editorial by the Union-Bulletin on December 9, 2011, titled "Meetings between Commission, sheriff should be public".

(That editorial can be viewed here, if you don't have an account with the Union-Bulletin.)

The two articles are linked below (registration may be required, if you have used your monthly quota of free views).
The discussion concerning the requested budget increases is a difficult one, given the revenue decrease, as noted by the Union-Bulletin on November 22 (No easy answers for budget gap), a projected $1.9 million county wide budget gap, and several as yet incomplete labor contract negotiations.  As noted in that article:
A worst-case scenario would have elected officials and department heads having to deal with increased labor costs in 2013 with the money they’ve been allotted in 2012, commissioners said. With no other place to cut expenses, layoffs may be the only option.

“It’s not that we (commissioners) are telling them to cut people,” Dozier said. “If they (elected officials and department heads) can find a place to cut without layoffs, then do it.”

At Monday’s discussion, county Treasurer Gordon Heimbigner said county officials need to take on strategic planning to decide what are the “bare essentials for each office and where do we want to be in four years?” He said that just as federal officials have warned of being “close to a fiscal cliff, so are we.”
The budget is set to be completed in December.  Short of a major increase in revenues for the county, the question facing the Commissioners is balancing the budget for the entire county.  The Sheriff either has to live within what he gets, or somehow takes something out of another county agency's budget.  This is a very difficult problem for all concerned, especially considering the cash flow problems discussed at the special meeting in October (discussed here in a previous post), and unplanned but inevitable emergency needs.

If you are interested in attending the Commission meetings, for either information, or to offer your opinion, the public meeting are held each Monday, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, or you can check the county calender here.