Archived Story

Shootouts hit deputy budget

Published 9:38am Thursday, January 31, 2013

Actions by the Lawrence County Commissioners in mid-January seemed to solve the funding problems the county sheriff was facing in 2013 when more than $300,000 was added to his budget.

Now with the overtime charges for separate shootings on Sunday and Tuesday Sheriff Jeff Lawless isn’t sure those appropriations will last, which puts the question of possible layoffs back on the table.

“Last week it looked like we could make it with current staffing levels,” Lawless said.

“But the last two days we called out the SWAT team twice and detectives twice. That is huge on the overtime budget.”

At its Jan. 17 meeting the county commission put $340,000 back into the sheriff’s budget to stave off looming layoffs of 22 full and part-time employees, including five road deputies.

From the wireless 911 fund $120,000 was transferred to the 911 dispatching service and $220,000 from unappropriated money in the half percent sales tax was moved to the road deputy budget, bringing that fund up to $1,001,250. That is approximately $3,900 more than was spent for deputies’ salaries and retirement in 2012. Both dispatchers and deputies had been hit with the prospect of layoffs.

Now before the first month of the New Year is over, the deputy budget has had a close to $2,000 hit.

According to Lawless four members of the county’s five-member SWAT team make $25 an hour with the team’s officer making $31 an hour.

“There is a two-hour minimum call out and the last couple of incidents they were all on the clock for four hours on the scene and another hour for debriefing,” Lawless said.

That means for both incidents the cost for the SWAT team was $1,310.

Detectives on overtime make $31 an hour so with two detectives there was $620 in additional costs to the county for the two shootings.

“If a road officer has to go into overtime or has to be called out that is an extra duty expense,” the sheriff said. “We are a 24-hour agency. It is hard to say how we will be at the end of the year. If we continue to have (these kind of expenses) we won’t make it. We will be in a financial bind again.”

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