Fisca court hears troubling news from jail, Sheriff's Office
by Eric Snyder --
Mar 01, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In what County Judge-Executive Berlin Moore said may have been the longest meeting of his tenure, the Trigg County Fiscal Court last week heard troubling fiscal news from the jail and Sheriff’s Office.

Wanda Thomas and her County Clerk’s Office, however, provided some positive news and a reason to be optimistic about the future.

Trigg County Sheriff Randy Clark asked the court to supplement his fiscal year 2005 budget with an additional $19,000 the office was obliged to repay the state.

The debt, owed to Kentucky for repayment of last year’s advancement from the state, must be paid if the Sheriff’s Office is to receive any funding from the state for fiscal year 2006, estimated to total $129,623.

“We’re in a pinch,” Moore told Clark. “In fact, we need everything [we can] to meet this jail shortage.” (For more on the jail’s financial situation, see the story on page A1.)

Sheriff Clark said vehicle expenses and overtime payments — $16,000 for the staff of four — caused his budget to go in the red.

The fiscal year 2006 budget for the Sheriff’s Office, approved by fiscal court last week, calls for a 50 percent reduction in overtime. It is, as Sheriff Clark described it, a budget of “bare necessities.”

Cutting back, Clark said, especially on overtime, will be tough for himself and his three deputies.

“It’s around the clock anymore,” he said. “Very seldom — until recently — did we get called out after midnight.”

Clark said he’d have to explore dispersing some of his workload onto other agencies.

The Sheriff’s Office did have $21,000 budgeted to go toward a new cruiser. The court voted last week, however, to use that money to repay the state.

“I understand about the cruiser — if we can’t afford one, we can’t afford one,” Clark said, “but we have to pay back [the $19,000] to receive any funding this year from the state.”

Clark added that, if the county did not approve a means of repaying the money, he himself would be personally responsible for paying it “out of my personal pocket.”

“We’re in a financial crisis,” Berlin said of the jail’s and Sheriff’s Office situation.

County Clerk Wanda Thomas, however, did have some good news.

In fiscal year 2005, she said her office collected $56,000 in fees in excess of its operating expenses. For reference, fiscal year 2004 resulted in an excess of $43,000.

Thomas said a current bill would raise some County Clerk fees, which would fund a kitty to be split among Kentucky counties with populations fewer than 20,000. She said those funds, if the bill is passed, wouldn’t be available until 2008.

Moore said many of those fees — such as those imposed on deed transfers — are a direct result of the county’s growth.

“We’ve been blessed with growth,” Moore said. “That’s the only way we’ve survived.”

He said that growth — the same that is now causing the Sheriff’s Office to be stretched thin — has allowed the county to make the minimum four percent increase in taxes in each of the last 13 years. It remains to be seen if, considering the financial footing of the jail and Sheriff’s Office, if that trend will continue for a 14th year.

For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.
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