Fueding over funding sheriff gets us nowhere

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

The fact that the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office will soon be out of money doesn’t surprise us.

What does surprise us, however, is how few people seem to be concerned about it. In fact, when logic would dictate that other county offices would be working hard to save money and help lend a fiscal hand to the sheriff’s office, others seem content to kick the office while it’s down.

Case in point: An sizable group of the county’s volunteer fire departments recently signed a letter urging the county fathers not to grant a request by Sheriff Tim Sexton.

Email newsletter signup

The sheriff has proposed that the county help fill the massive budget chasm in the sheriff’s office with some funding from the county’s half-cent sales tax revenue.

The 1998 tax levy was for the purpose of providing funding to the county’s emergency services.

The upset fire chiefs, however, are crying foul. It seems their tempers have flared at the notion that the funds might be reallocated to the sheriff.

Now, at first glance this makes sense. On the surface they would want to protect their own funding turf. Besides, if we give our money to the sheriff’s office, we may not have the funds to buy the equipment we need.

That’s the logical notion. It’s logical that is until one realizes that to date - that’s since 1998, according to the fire chiefs’ letter - they have only received $1,000 from the tax. So it appears the fire chiefs are working to protect money they’ve never had in the first place.

Which begs the question of why they would do such a thing.

Can anyone say sour grapes?

Or maybe that’s jealousy?

In their letter, the chiefs appear to contend the issue is one of semantics. They point to the fact that the law says the taxes are for "emergency services" while they contend the sheriff’s office is a "public safety" department. Folks, that’s called splitting hairs and it serves no good purpose other than political jockeying for position on how to spent your money.

Anyone who think the sheriff's office doesn't respond to emergencies has obviously never had to call them for help.

Remember, the county’s funds stem entirely from your taxes. Let’s quit wasting time, get serious and get the budget problems solved – before the public safety, emergency services or whatever you want to call our community’s well-being is at risk.