Sheriff balks at suggested budget cuts
by Jennifer Cohron
Sep 04, 2013 | 1417 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey has informed the Walker County Commission via a letter that he will not be making any cuts to either of his two budgets for 2014.

It is now up to commissioners to determine how to make the four-percent cut that they have asked of all department heads.

“He said he feels like he can’t cut anything,” Commissioner Dan Wright said during a budget talk Tuesday afternoon. Wright referred specifically to a letter the commission received from Tirey following their conversation with him at their last work session.

Tirey, who was not at Tuesday’s work session, said in a telephone interview after the meeting that he felt his budgets were already “bare bones.”

“I’m not going to endanger the public or the citizens of this county. They’re going to make those decisions,” Tirey said.

Tirey added that his department is currently struggling to keep up with its calls and caseload.

“I don’t have the personnel or the vehicles that I once did,” Tirey said.

Chairman Billy Luster said during the work session that he has already trimmed the jail’s $3.2 million budget by four percent. Commissioner Keith Davis said he believed the same could be done for the $2.3 million budget that has been proposed for the sheriff’s office.

“It’s only fair if the other department heads are trimming theirs by four percent, and I think there’s room for a four-percent trim in the sheriff’s office without jeopardizing public safety,” Davis said.

Davis added that approximately $92,000 would have to be cut from the sheriff’s office budget in order to reach the four percent threshold.

Commissioner Steven Aderholt said if Tirey’s wish is for the commission to determine the budgets, then they should do so for each individual line item.

Davis pointed out that conversations with county employees would be helpful in determining which cuts to make.

“If we have to go that route, I think that involves us interviewing folks who work at the jail and the sheriff’s office to get an idea of staffing, what their needs are, how the management is,” Davis said.

Aderholt also recommended inviting Tirey to the next bugdet work session, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

The commission met with several other department heads on Tuesday. All of their proposed budgets, which included the suggested four-percent cut, met with the board’s approval.

Commissioners stated in their first budget meeting in August that across the board cuts would be needed to prepare for 2018, when an 11-year-old, $27 million debt will come due.