MONROE - Monroe County officials are being asked to make more than $1.6 million in cuts to offset a projected budget deficit.
County commissioners are to consider a resolution tonight that would declare a "fiscal and financial emergency," requiring the nine-member board to amend the current budget, which would result in layoffs to about 50 employees throughout county offices. The biggest impact would be in the sheriff's office, as Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield would be forced to cut $1.25 million in personnel costs before July 1.
He said 27 employees - most of them from road patrol - would be laid off.
The resolution also would require midyear cuts of $250,000 in the prosecutor's office and $125,000 in the central dispatch 911 center.
Sheriff Crutchfield said operations to be cut focus on public safety.
"What the county commissioners' priorities are
for the county are anybody's guess. It doesn't appear to be public safety," he said.
William Sisk, chairman of the commissioners, said he scheduled a meeting today before the commissioners' meeting to review options with Sheriff Crutchfield that could avert layoffs.
"I am asking the sheriff to be a little creative. The resolution is on the table, and the commissioners are willing to compromise and work together. We are not married to the $1.25 million in cuts," he said.
The commissioners are looking for ways to address a deficit that is being attributed to declining property tax revenue, dwindling interest income, and increasing property foreclosures.
Mr. Sisk said the board began shaping the budget last year by trimming the $55 million annual budget to $51 million.
"This has become a moving target for us," he explained. "We are trying to hit a target, and the target keeps moving because of fluctuating revenues."
Sheriff's Detective David LaMontaine, president of the 70-member Monroe County Deputy Sheriffs Association, said the cuts to law enforcement are capricious and arbitrary. He added that the commissioners were putting the lives of residents at risk.
He said the commissioners have the option of taking money from the reserve fund to cover the shortfall.
"For these people to be talking like this is unconscionable," he said.
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