Mandated cuts in personnel and vehicles in the Davis County Sheriff's Department have not been made yet, more than three weeks into the department's new budget year.
Negotiations are still going on between Sheriff Glen Clary, charged with making the cuts, and the county commissioners, who mandated the cutbacks by chopping more than a half million dollars from the department's operations division.Clary, who took office in January, has balked at making the cuts and is trying to negotiate either a budget or tax increase, according to Capt. K.D. Simpson, the department's operations officer.
But the commissioners are standing firm, Simpson said. Clary is attending a sheriff's convention and was not available for comment.
In setting the department's 1991 budget, the commissioners cut $538,000 from the operations portion of the budget, requiring a cutback of 15 persons and a like number of vehicles from the department's fleet.
The cuts are to offset increases in the department's budget to open and operate the county's new $20 million jail and court complex, scheduled to open this spring. That will require adding at least 34 new positions in the jail division, in addition to 10 already added.
To fund that, the commissioners increased the department's jail operations budget from $1.54 million to $2.65 million.
The cutback in personnel and equipment was supposed to be effective Jan. 1, the first day of the new 1991 budget year.
But former sheriff Harry Jones, who lost the October primary election to Clary but stayed in office until Jan. 7, refused to make the cuts. And Clary has not wanted his four-year administration to open with a mass layoff.
Simpson estimated the department is spending $2,000 a day in salaries which is not covered by the budget, or $44,000 since the new budget went into effect. If no compromise is reached with the commission, that money will have to made up later in the year.
Included in the operations division are the patrol, warrants, court bailiff, detectives, paramedic and dispatch functions.
Simpson said morale in the department is low as the negotiations continue. The commissioners said deputies or paramedics cut from the operations division could possibly take one of the jobs opening in the jail division but Simpson said that is unlikely.
The training and qualifying process for the two operations is different and deputies are not automatically eligible for a job as a corrections officer, he said.
Some might make the transition, but Simpson predicted they would only stay with the jail division until they find a job in another agency.
Chopping $500,000 from the department's operations division is difficult, Simpson said, because many of the sheriff's department functions are mandated by state law.
Patrol activities are already far below the public's perception, Simpson said, and few additional cuts can be made there. The department normally has two paramedic trucks and only one patrol car on duty during a shift, he said.
In dispatch, five of the 14 available job slots are already vacant, Simpson said.
Simpson said the department and the commissioners are investigating the option of the sheriff taking over the function of the county constables, who serve legal papers and perform mostly civil enforcement procedures, such as foreclosures and property seizures.
The state legislature in its last session changed constables from elected to appointed positions, under the jurisdiction of the county commission. The terms of all elected constables expired Dec. 31 under the new law.
Simpson estimated the department could generate $120,000 to $150,000 annually through the constable work. And, he said, the department may have to start charging for some of the services it has been performing free.