TIFFIN — Seneca County Sheriff Bill Eckelberry asked Seneca County commissioners Thursday for nearly $130,000 to keep his department operating for the rest of the year.
The sheriff's department has been plagued by financial problems this year after experiencing a projected $500,000 loss of revenue from a decrease in prisoners for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement housed at the county jail.
Sheriff Eckelberry requested $4,251 for various needed repairs in the department’s fleet of vehicles and an additional $8,000 for unanticipated jail maintenance repairs. The high cost of fuel combined with an increased cost in services has left a zero balance in the sheriff’s supply budget for both his road patrol and the jail. For that, the sheriff requested a total of $48,300.
The commissioners unanimously agreed to dip into the general fund to supplement the expenses for both supplies and repairs.
Sheriff Eckelberry also asked for $69,358 to cover the cost of food for jail inmates the rest of the year. County Administrator Stacy Wilson explained the budget for the food line was cut for 2012 when the nearby Crosswaeh Community Based Correctional Facility opted to end its food-service contract with the sheriff's department. However, since then, food costs have increased because of new governmental regulations instituted for the county’s youth center that stipulate the type of food that can be served.
The department also contracts to provide food service to the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.
The commissioners delayed making a decision about the food portion of the budget.
“I think we need to look to transfer money [within the department] from one line to another,” Commissioner Jeff Wagner said. “You aren't going to run out of food tomorrow, so we have time to look at the numbers and transfer where we can.”