EATON — The Preble County Sheriff’s Office will not be allotted the funds to add an additional sheriff’s deputy and corrections officer in the 2019 PCSO budget.
Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech presented the two positions to his fellow commissioners in a previous commissioners meeting, claiming the sheriff’s department is understaffed and the county has the funds to add the positions.
During a commission meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 21, the board came to a decision on the matter, although it was not put to a vote. Both Commissioner Denise Robertson and Chris Day indicated, they are not interested in additional staffing for the PCSO at this time. Day would be interested in revisiting the situation once the dispatch merger is live, but is concerned with the county’s financial standing.
“I totally get and respect what you guys are saying and where you are coming from, on our budget, I just believe that, as commissioners, we take in taxpayer dollars and it is our job to manage and budget them. I love the fact that we’re sitting on six months in a budget, but we also need to be realistic and provide services people want and are paying for,” Creech said.
“I think, one of the biggest factors for me is, if we didn’t have $150,000 in overtime, we wouldn’t have as big of an issue, but when you see companies that have that much in overtime, it is time to hire another person. We can greatly reduce overtime. We will not fully reduce overtime [with these two positions]. I would say [we will reduce overtime] by 20 percent or better. If we weren’t short staffed, I wouldn’t be arguing. I know we’re short staffed. We lost 15 positions back in 2008-2009. We are in the financial position now [to fill positions]. I’m not asking for 15 positions, I’m asking for two. Being in the position we are now financially, I have absolutely no problem asking for it. It is a no-brainer.”
“I would like to see future commissioner’s not be put in a spot where they have to make big budget cuts like they had to in 2008. You have no crystal ball to know what is going to happen in the future as far as the economy. It is cyclical and it will go back down. You build it all up and you will have to cut it back down so you can stay within your budget,” Robertson said.
“I think this is a bad idea financially for the future. These positions would be added forever, until there is a downturn and they need to be cut. I am fine with the position we are in with the six million. We have a half a year budget and I am comfortable with that. Based on our projections of what we are bringing in and spending, I see our cash balance going down.”
Robertson added, she would be more willing to consider the positions if there was a guarantee they would reduce overtime by 50 percent — a feat Creech said is unrealistic.
“In looking at the budget, I have great concerns of the increases we’ve gone through this year. I truly believe next year we are knocking on the door of expenditures exceeding receipts. The work up you did, the work up [Auditor] Lavon [Wright] did, I did mine prior to that. I am very concerned that next year is going to be very tough at budget time,” Day said.
“We’re always going to have capital [improvements]. Now, it is an ongoing occurrence, I don’t know what is going to be the next thing out there. I can tell you, sitting here in my tenure, we just keep adding to the list. The sheriff said he’s not going to have anything, but in two years he’s going to have something else. It is the nature of the business.
“I have real concerns about where we’re at financially,” he continued. “I understand we have a cash balance, but I am fairly confidence our cash balance is going to be lower at the end of this year than it was the end of last year. That concerns me. We’ve added half a million of reoccurring expenses to our budget this year, with the addition of employees and raises. When we were discussing the dispatch consolidation, in that discussion there I was very clear that I supported the dispatch, but would not support any additional employees until that dispatch was up and running. The Sheriff was sitting there when I said that. We’ve added the three dispatchers, which we all agreed to, but the Sheriff Department has also added four School Resource Officers.”
“There are going to be costs coming out of there, for those deputies,” Day said. “I am all for those positions, but we could be looking at more of those positions if another school steps to the plate. We’ve got to tighten our belts, we’ve been very generous about what we’ve done. I have some real concerns about our budget.”
With two commissioners against the proposal, the issue was not brought to a vote. Commissioner Creech noted, he will bring up his proposal again once the dispatch merger goes live, which is on track for May of 2019.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH