A request for a significant increase in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office budget was scheduled for discussion when committees of the Quorum Court met on Tuesday. Do to The Journal’s press deadlines, coverage of that meeting was not possible for this edition. Please see next week’s edition for more on this issue.
In a letter to County Judge Gerald Robinson, Chris Brown, the Sheriff's Office's bookkeeper, said that when Robinson, who was the sheriff in 2018, submitted his 2019 budget, it was based on an average of actual expenditures from 2012 to 2018.
“It was, therefore, a realistic request, not a frivolous one,” Brown said in the letter. “That the appropriation for 2019 is less than the request by $207,259.11 is problematic in itself.”
Brown said in the letter that the budget problem was compounded when $188,259 of the 2019 budget was earmarked for a payment on the loan the Sheriff's Office took out to complete construction of their new building. A payment of more than $32,000 in claims from 2018 that were put into the 2019 budget made matters even worse.
“This essentially means a real difference to the operational capacity of the Sheriff’s Office of nearly $428,000,” Brown said. “As such, Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. asks the Jefferson County Quorum Court to appropriate the full amount originally proposed for 2019 by Sheriff Robinson.”
Specifically, the proposed ordinance asks that a total of $428,000 be transferred from the County General Fund to the Sheriff’s Office Fund.
According to the April 2019 treasurer’s report, there was only $167,200.50 in the County General budget on April 30.
Also on the agenda is a request to move more than $170,000 in funds appropriated for the adult jail from salaries to other line items.
Brown said in a second letter to Robinson that almost $96,000 that had been budgeted for salaries and benefits through April 15 went unspent, and Jail Administrator Tyra Tyler-Johnson had identified three unfilled positions whose funding could be better used in other areas. Those three unfilled positions were a laundry technician, cook and part-time nurse.
The letter asked that the funds be applied to pay utility bills, computer services, internet services, medical, dental and hospital bills, meals and lodging.
A proposed appropriation ordinance totaling $191,472.43 to be added to the 2019 Solid Waste Fund to cover salaries and benefits for employees through the end of the year is also on the agenda, as is a $9,400 supplemental appropriation for the County Clerk’s Office.
County Clerk Shawnda Taggert said in a letter to Robinson and members of the county’s legislative body that $4,000 of the funds are needed for postage for odd year mailing expenses. She said that the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act requires the odd year mailing, adding that her office has mailed out 10,000 notifications to voters, which require a return reply. Those notifications also require her office to maintain an account with the post office and maintain funds in the account so that the notifications can be returned.
The remaining $5,400 will be used for maintenance and service for the Data Scout contract that will be used to assist with the mandatory redistricting of county voters, among other things.