Bradley panel asks sheriff for details on budget needs

Bradley panel asks sheriff for details on budget needs

April 25th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn.-The Bradley County Commission's Finance Committee wants to know more about how the sheriff's office will meet its contract obligations after budget cutbacks.

In the fiscal year that began July 1, the department's budget did not include enough money for services, including copy machine and software maintenance. Other items were axed when it became clear cuts would be needed, commissioners were told.

Commissioners also have learned the sheriff's office now is paying for meth lab cleanups - a federal responsibility until recently. And the price of gasoline has soared, reducing the impact of conservation efforts.

The sheriff's office is asking to move $157,032 from its fund balance to cover vehicle maintenance, gasoline, data processing and other contracted services. It seeks to move $70,842 in its jail fund to cover prisoners' clothing, building maintenance and other contracted services.

The written explanation of the request is "monies [that were] cut from 2010-2011 budget that need to be added back to finish out remaining budget year."

Commissioner Ed Elkins noted the sheriff's budget was approved last year without enough money to meet contract obligations.

The conversation on how to cover the obligations should have taken place last year, he said, not now that only a little more than two months are left in the budget year.

County departments are putting together budget requests for the 2012 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Elkins said he needed more documentation before he could vote on requested amendments to this year's sheriff's office budget two weeks from now.

Commissioner Jeff Morelock said he understands the political need for budget cuts, but to make cuts before the budget is submitted is playing games.

"I would like to see a realistic budget. This is what we feel like we need, and if we cut something, it's something you all say, 'Yes, we can cut this out,'" Morelock said.