Can Kicked Down the Road…Again
Mason County Commission was briefed again today on the Supplemental Budget requests made by the Sheriff's Office, and for the second time the Supplemental Budget was not approved. Commission Chair Jeffreys stated; ”the Commission, with the aid of Central Service's Budget director would need an additional 30 days to review the request". In the 28 days since the July 14, 2014 briefing by the Sheriff's Office on the same issue, the amount of the request has grown to $1.266 million due to the overtime and the unforeseen expenditures of the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff had his department heads give a review of their justifications for the request and provided answers to the Commission's previous questions from the July 14, 2014 budget briefing. Along with the Sheriff's administrative staff was a room full of Mason County citizens seeking to support the Sheriff and learn more of the budget issues.
After the Sheriff Offices' presentation of the case for a budget increase Commissioner Tim Sheldon commented it was his personal view as a single commissioner most of the items on the supplemental budget are costs "you just cannot avoid" and the cost need to be dealt with now, versus later.
Neatherlin offered a different perspective, stating his history of supporting criminal justice since he has been a County Commissioner, BUT this was the second time Neatherlin has seen requests of this magnitude (13%) come before him from the Sheriff's Office. Neatherlin cited increases for purchase of cars, a $750k renovation for the jail, a new roof, the upcoming jail modifications and the recent salary increases for command staff. Neatherlin went on to state if this budget request was approved that would mean a 26% budget increase over a two-year period. Neatherlin asked where does the County get the money to pay for this rate of increases?
Sheriff Salisbury rebutted Neatherlin's comments stating the majority of the items identified by Neatherlin were not budgeted by the Sheriff's Office but instead for facilities. The items on the supplemental request are for mandated costs to operate the jail and provide services per RCW. As for the command staff's salary increase, Salisbury stated Mason County's pay rate for command staff was the lowest among the surrounding counties. Salisbury also brought up the cost of the newly formed Central Services Operation to aid the Commissioners as an additional $500k to the budget; not so said Jeffreys after the meeting adjourned, it was only $83k.
The Commission requested status on cost cutting investigations under way (video conferencing and in house nursing, both may result in lower cost to transport inmates) and request the Sheriff's Office continue to seek out additional ways to cut operating cost. But in the end the can once more was kicked down the road, the Sheriff's Office will continue to operate on their budget for the next 30 days.
JE KMAS – August 11, 2014