Polk compromises on sheriff’s office budget

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sheriff to hire new investigator next fiscal year
The Polk County Board of Commissioners and Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill have compromised on new positions in the sheriff’s office and decided to allow enough funds to hire one of three requested employees.
Commissioners met Monday, May 7 and announced they would add $30,000 to the sheriff’s budget from the general fund contingency to help pay for an additional investigator. The sheriff’s office was asked to find approximately $10,000 in its budget to pay for FICA expenses for the position.
The sheriff’s office originally requested three new positions, including a new drug investigator and two deputies for patrol.
The sheriff’s office requested the new positions, saying there has been an increase in the number of calls and cases over the last few years.
“As you know the amount of meth labs discovered and amount of drug cases we are working in the county has increased tremendously as of late and is currently being handled by one person,” said Hill in his budget request. “Thus this investigator would not only work with the narcotics investigations (increasing the safety of the position of having two persons assigned to cases) but also would help the case loads the non-narcotics investigators are handling (three investigators currently handling over 285 cases as of this request).”
With the three new positions, the sheriff’s office was requesting approximately $142,000 in additional salaries, including FICA, retirement, insurance and a 2.5 percent salary increase for all county employees. The three new positions would have cost approximately $127,500.
County manager Ryan Whitson presented his recommended budget to commissioners on Monday, which originally denied all requests for new positions.
Whitson said in his budget message that he was denying all new positions because he doesn’t feel it is the time to add to the county’s payroll, especially considering this budget will cut two employees from the department of social service (DSS) staff.
“I could not in good conscience support adding employees to other departments while taking employees away from one,” Whitson said.
Whitson later said he negotiated with the sheriff and some of his staff on Monday, based on some of the issues printed in a Bulletin article on Friday, May 4. He said he and the sheriff’s office agreed to hire only one of the requested employees, a new narcotics officer. Whitson said he is happy with the compromise.
“Sounds like we’re in a good meeting of the minds,” said commissioner chair Ray Gasperson.
Commissioners also agreed with Whitson’s recommendation to take $30,000 from contingency to help fund a new narcotics officer.
The county’s recommended budget initially included $58,095 in contingency. The $30,000 to the sheriff’s office will leave $28,095, with Whitson saying another approximately $7,000 will need to be taken from contingency to match state money. The final contingency left in the new budget will be a little over $20,000 after the adjustments, Whitson said.
The new adjustments to the sheriff’s office budget will mean the total sheriff budget for next year will be an estimated  $1,698,471. This year’s amended budget for the sheriff’s office was $1,670,231.
The sheriff’s office requested $80,000 in capital outlay, down from this year’s budget at $120,500. Capital outlay requests from the sheriff include one new vehicle, fully equipped; seven additional mobile data terminals for patrol cars, seven printers for the computers, one Hot-n-Pop (heat sensor/door popper) for the K9 vehicle, replacement of three tasers and the purchase of con-ex for evidence storage, according to the budget request.
Polk County’s new budget year will begin July 1.
Editor’s note: Look for more coverage on the county’s overall budget later this week.

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