Sheriff asks for a bigger budget to match workload | ParkRecord.com

Sheriff asks for a bigger budget to match workload

Sarah Moffitt, The Park Record

Criminal investigations and traffic patrols will have to be significantly reduced in 2012 if the Summit County Sheriff’s department budget is not increased, according to Sheriff Dave Edmunds.

On Monday, Edmunds appeared before the Summit County Council to discuss his requested budget, County Manager Bob Jasper’s recommended budget, and the $300,000 difference between the two. Edmunds is requesting $6.7 million for 2012, more than half a million above last years budget. Jasper is recommending the County Council budget $6.4 million for the Sheriff’s department.

"We already cut down our budget from last year and are now down to the bone. The number of calls the Sheriff’s department is receiving continues to rise yet our budget is decreasing," said Edmunds. "The only way to deal with this is to reduce the amount of services we offer. Not as a threat, but just as the reality of services outpacing the money we are given."

The most significant reduction Jasper is recommending for the Sheriff’s budget is the amount of money available for overtime. Edmunds says overtime pay is vital in order to allow his department to conduct investigations and provide security for special events like the Oakley Rodeo and County Fair.

"We will have to choose what crimes we investigate and probably cut back on property crimes, even if they are high value crimes," Edmunds said. "As for special events, we are the primary police force for most of the East Side of the county so we have to provide deputies for their large events."

Jasper said he actually increased the amount of money in the Sheriff’s overtime budget compared to the Budget Committee’s recommendation. He said that along with the rest of the county’s employees, the Sheriff’s office needs to manage its overtime hours and "make do."

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According to Edmunds, his department’s fuel budget has been "nickel and dimed" and that also could impact services.

"If fuel prices rise, we will not be able to be proactive in our patrols," Edmunds said. "We will have to park our vehicles somewhere and just wait for calls. We have done everything we can to reduce fuel consumption, but in this county, we need four-wheel drive vehicles that can go on dirt roads. There aren’t many sport utility vehicles that get great mileage."

Councilmember Chris Robinson asked Edmunds if he could reduce his fuel costs by not allowing deputies to take their police vehicles home. Edmunds said that because many of his deputies do not live in the community and have not received raises in over four years, allowing them to drive their vehicles home helps the department retain employees and increase response time.

"As our budget is cut further, we need to reallocate funds, reduce our training and will have a harder time keeping qualified employees," Edmunds added.

The County Council will decide on a final 2012 budget for the Sheriff’s department on Dec. 14 during a public hearing in the Coalville Courthouse at 6 p.m.

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