The Lucas County Sheriff's Office is likely to run out of the $24.8 million it has budgeted for the year in about mid-November, if current budget trends continue.
Lucas County Commissioners approved a fourth-quarter budget resolution for the sheriff's office Tuesday — about six weeks before the start of the fourth quarter on Oct.1. They approved $6.1 million in funds for salaries, the jail, and other costs.
When the commissioners approved the $565 million 2012 county budget in December, they voted to make appropriations for the sheriff's office quarterly throughout the year to closely monitor it.
The sheriff's was the only county office put on this type of quarterly budget.
In 2010, more than 50 positions in that office were eliminated because of budget shortfalls.
"It is difficult to approve the final budget six weeks early," said Commissioner Pete Gerken after the resolution was approved by all three commissioners. Personnel is the most costly part of the agency's budget, he said.
For all of 2012, about $1.5 million is budgeted for court security, $1.8 million for administration, $17.2 million for the jail, just over $1 million for medical care in the jail, and $3.1 million for records, detectives, and road patrols.
The sheriff's office is likely to have a shortfall of $2.9 million to $3 million at the end of the year, estimated Kevin Helminski, director of finance for the office. He said the agency has cut staff and made adjustments in union rules to be more frugal, but saving money can be challenging.
"It's a 24/7 operation," he said. "There's no give." And understaffing can lead to its own problems, he said; he projected the office will spend $2.2 million for overtime this year.
Commissioner Carol Contrada said the commissioners have worked very closely with the sheriff's office, such as providing budget analysis and looking at restructured scheduling. She was careful to point out that the commissioners are not allowed to tell the sheriff's office how to spend money.
"We have no authority to make changes," she said. "It is his department. We may have ideas, but we can't implement them."
The county's jail doesn't make matters any easier, said Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who used to work in the jail as a social worker.
"The setup doesn't help the situation," she said. "It is older and designed poorly for manning options." The corrections center in downtown Toledo at 1622 Spielbusch Ave. opened in 1977, according to the facility's Web site.
Mr. Gerken said the law enforcement budget issue will have to be addressed soon. "At some point, we're going to have a very tough discussion about what's fair," he said, referring to Lucas County townships that are served by sheriff's road patrols but do not contribute financially for the service.
Monclova and Springfield townships receive an additional level of service and do contribute funds for it; Sylvania Township has its own police force. Jerusalem, Providence, Spencer townships and others in Lucas County do not. Kevin Had- dad, a Sylvania Township trustee and president of the Lucas County Township Association, said many smaller townships have no funds available to pay for such services.
"Small communities aren't going to be able to survive," he said.
Mr. Haddad is running for Lucas County commissioner as an independent against Ms. Wozniak, a Democrat.
"We completely understand the dilemma the commissioners are facing," added Mr. Helminski.
Sheriff James Telb did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
Contact Kate Giammarise at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.