County Commission, Sheriff’s Office meet to discuss 2013-2014 budget
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA – Budget discussions are in full swing as the Shelby County Commission gears up to allocate the projected $55.1 million in revenues throughout the county for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and other sheriff’s office employees met with the County Commission Aug. 26 to present their budget requests and explain the office’s challenges and needs. Curry said the discussion lasted nearly two hours.
The Sheriff’s Office requested approximately $17.8 million for operating and capital costs and approximately $6.6 million for jail costs, according to Shelby County financial services manager Butch Burbage. Last year, the Sheriff’s Office received about $14.7 million and $6.1 million, respectively, Burbage said.
During the discussion, each division commander for the Sheriff’s Office gave a presentation about the division’s needs and challenges so that the commission would “get an understanding and a picture of what is mandated by law and what (the Sheriff’s Office) is expected and demanded to do by the citizens,” Curry said.
“I tried to give them the big picture of why it is important to have adequate law enforcement for the citizens,” Curry said.
The two largest ticket items discussed were vehicles and personnel, Curry said.
“We’re way behind in replacing (vehicles),” said Curry, who suggested replacing a certain number of cars every year based on mileage and condition.
He also discussed the primary thing he says keeps his office running – people.
“Our business is service, and the only thing that delivers service to citizens either inside the jail or outside…is people,” Curry said. “We have got nowhere even close to the number of people we need relative to the growth of the county.
“Both of us are mandated by law to perform certain duties, and the commission says there’s no money, and their job is to find the money.”
County commissioner and chairperson Lindsey Allison said the presentations were informative and gave the commission good information about the Sheriff’s Office’s wants and needs, but ultimately she said the commission is bound by the budget.
“Naturally, we want everybody to have everything that they would want to do the best job possible, but what we’re able to afford may be a whole different question,” Allison said. “In order to have a balanced budget, we’re going to have to be very careful. I appreciate him presenting us with the information. There are many needs in this county, but we just have to be bound by budget.”
County Manager Alex Dudchock said all county budgets were reduced during the recent recession except for the Sheriff’s Office and Adult Jail, with public safety budgets increasing 110 percent.
“In July 2013, the Commission cut another budgeted area to provide $270,000 of additional funds towards school security and public safety initiatives in our county in the new school year,” Dudchock said in an emailed statement.
Burbage said the commission is bound by law to adopt a balanced budget. He also said the commission is scheduled to hold a work session Sept. 9 to begin allocating funds, and the budget has to be approved by the last meeting in September.
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