Clinton County cuts into public safety budget

Clinton County might have to cut into public safety funds to finish the year out debt free.

Posted: Oct. 23, 2018 7:26 PM

(Plattsburg,MO) After crunching the numbers, Clinton County might have to cut into public safety funds to finish the year out debt free.

Clinton County Presiding Commissioner Wade Wilken said the county needs an estimated $300,000 in revenue to break even on their budget for 2018.

"County as of today we have $151,000 in county revenue. Payroll with bills is about $140,000, so we are not in a great place right now," Wilken said.

The county commissioners have requested the Sheriff's Department scale back to save the budget. The sheriff department budget is $1.137million for 2018, and makes up a little less than half of the county’s overall budget.

The cuts will not impact deputy or dispatch salaries, but will take a hit on the departments operational budget.

"We are not saying we are cutting people, we are just cutting down the cost associated with them, like the cars, the gas the insurance, things like that to get through the end of the year,"Wilken said.

From 2017 to 2018 the Overtime Patrol budget was reduced from $20,000 to $10,000, and the jail budget was reduced from $20,000 to $7,500.

As of October 9, the sheriff’s budget is at 110.88 percent of total capacity for 2018; the jail is at 102.91 percent (with $182,000 spent to date on prisoner holding and transfer); Deputy salaries is at 88.43 percent, dispatch is at 91.59 percent and clerical services for the department are at 70.35 percent.

Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish said out of county inmate transfer has the biggest impact on the departments budget.

"At the beginning of the year they set our out of county inmate housing at $140,000 and we typically run about $200,000. We were automatically set up to fail then," Fish said.

The department has approximately $45,000 left for the remainder of the year, but deputy overtime might break the bank.

Clinton County Undersheriff Ira Fogg said the commission has set unrealistic expectations for the department due to the mandatory overtime built into the

"We spent most of our overtime from the previous year, because we are forced to pay overtime that is built into every paycheck," Fogg said.

According to Fogg, the department has spent over $35,000 this year in mandatory overtime alone, and used the department funds to make back payments totally over $8,000.

“While completing the application for our supplemental salary in the spring, to raise our deputy’s salaries from a base pay of $25,000 to $30,000, our office identified that the county had been factoring the overtime incorrectly and underpaying deputies since 2015,” Fogg said. “The sheriff’s office then brought it to the attention of the county commissioners. The sheriff’s office budget ended up paying back all the affected deputies for underpayment for the last two years, whether they were still employed here or not.”

The department typically has one deputy working the road each shift spreading out across the 420 mile county, but the budget cuts could leave more work for city first responders.Gower Police Chief Joe Wellington said his department works with the sheriff's department almost daily.

"In all the years I've been in Gower, there has always been finance issues, there is never enough money. We received a letter about 10 days ago telling us about this meeting, that's the first time that I knew anything about it being critical," Wellington said. “I don’t sit in on the budget meetings, I don’t know how all that works, I don’t know what the expenditures are, what the expenditures are not. What I want to make sure if when someone calls 9-1-1 that someone is going to show up to help those people.”

On November 6, Clinton County voters will have the chance to generate revenue for the county by permanently setting the sliding scale property and sales tax

“If you get you get a certain amount of sales tax coming in that exceeds your property tax, your property tax goes down.But if you don’t get enough sales tax your property tax goes up. It’s a sliding scale offsetting each other,” Fish said. “A short time after the state enacted that, three or four years later the state said you can set it, but the county never went back to the voters to have that fixed.”

Fish estimates the proposed adjustment would generate approximately $3,000 a year.

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