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Sheriff’s View #2 for Jan. 4 to 8, 2010
Sheriff’s View #2 for Jan. 4 to 8, 2010

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard to the column on a very cold day in January where the molasses is frozen in place in Pulaski County. Hopefully that little line managed to produce a laugh from you to start off the day. I do not have a lot of news today but what I do have is good.

I am sure that you have all noticed that in January of each year I devote a lot of space to budget issues. This may be somewhat dull reading at times but the new budget is a very important issue for the department. Whatever is decided on and set in stone in January of each year is what we must operate with for the remainder of the year. In the 2009 budget we lost 3.5 employee positions. During 2009 I had spent a lot of time researching economic issues on the state and national scene that I hoped I could apply to our local scene. The research led me to believe that we could lose more employee positions in the 2010 budget. However at this time I have a small ray of hope that will not happen.

The city of St. Robert reported a 7.05 percent increase in sales tax revenue. If they are up then Pulaski County has also increased. Right now I still do not know just what the increase added up to but the preliminary figures suggested around a 5.0 percent increase. Bluntly said, that amounts to a victory for the county. It may well lead to a status quo budget for 2010. In other words the budget for 2010 would be the same as the one you had in 2009. If so that would be a victory in the face of the idea that we would have to lay off more people. Since we could not afford to lay off the 3.5 employees last year we could not even think about the idea of losing more this year. That would have been a major disaster for us.

Now for the good news for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Pulaski. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is the single biggest consumer of our sales tax revenue here in Pulaski County. The final figures are now in and they show that for the budget year of 2009 we finished out the year at .004175 percent UNDER BUDGET. Under budget is a major victory for the department and the county. The Pulaski County Commissioners set our 2009 budget at $1,384,428 and we were under by a whopping $5,780 for the year. Or the above quoted figure of .004175 percent, if you prefer that method of expression.

How did we do it this year? I am still looking at the figures but right up front we need to pat Capt. Bill Anderson and Chief Jail Administrator Karen Ward on the back. They maximized our holding positions here at home and whenever possible they cut the inmate figures at the other jails we use. That translates into money we did not spend in the other counties. This was not an easy job and it demanded constant attention on a day to day basis. We also need to pat Maj. Tom Cristoffer on the back. He managed to bring us in under budget in the auto expense line.

We also need to pat the Pulaski County Commission on the back. In 2009 our inmate medical expenses once again were way over the budget and once again in the fall of the year I had Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) make a presentation to the Commission. After five years of trying the Commission was finally sold on the idea and they gave ACH an immediate contract. Since we were already over the medical budget when they approved the contract and the ACH contract payments piled on top of the then current expenses we knew we were going to be way over the expense mark for the 2009 year. In fact, we were over by $42,236 for the year, but the savings in the inmate board bill balanced that out for the year. The good news here is that the ACH contract runs for three years and for 2010 the medical expense should level out. While we did spend $97,236 on inmate medical care for 2009, that is not the record high figure. The record high expense for inmate medical care was set in 2003 and that expense was $181,196 worth of our tax dollars, so knowing that, the 2010 medical expense should level off because of the ACH contract is another victory for the county.

In other areas of the budget, we had some over-budget items and a few under-budget items but for the most part these were very small sections of the budget and not worth reporting on for the year. The auto expense part of the budget worries me because in an effort to stay under we cut some necessary maintenance on the cars back. We held off some transmission maintenance and engine tune-ups and a few other items. I hope we do not pay a price in 2010 for these cuts but I am reminded of the oil filter commercial that said, “Pay me now or pay me later.” The maintenance fees are much cheaper than the transmission repair. Another major reason why we were under budget in auto expanse was the year long lower price of gasoline and the fact we had two less road deputies on patrol for the year.

In the final analysis the 2009 budget year turned out good and now we must start to work on the 2010 budget year. Until next column I would remind everyone to drive with care and to keep your actions legal. We are off and running on the 2010 budget year expense and we would like to hold down the cost so please stay out of our jail. But if you must visit you will find the bright lights are on.

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