A New Year brings new challenges
As another new year is upon us, we have completed the task of making a new budget. Every year the Sheriff submits two budget requests, one for the operation of the Sheriff’s Office and one for the operation of the jail. This past year we were only able to recover a small portion of money the state owes the county for board bills on housing inmates. The state owes Iron County over $100,000 and nearly 39 million state wide to other Sheriff’s Offices. The Sheriff submitted a budget requesting about $480,000 for the Sheriff’s Office and $279,000 for the operation of the jail. The county commission met last week to finalized and approve the budget. A major concern is with the jail budget, with several new laws coming into effect on August 28, 2017, and the state with holding payments, will seriously affect the county’s general revenue budget.
We applied for and received several grants for 2018. The Iron County Sheriff’s Office was approved for just over $90,000 to supplement our Deputies salaries and $9,000 to purchase three of the new state required radios. Several other smaller grants from MoDot has been applied for to assist in putting deputies on the road additional hours during the holidays. These grants have been a very big plus for the county. It has allowed us to invest in our staff which has allowed us to retain highly trained and skilled deputies. Deputy Davis attended a required MoDOT grant writing class in order to apply for additional available safety grants. All deputies live in the county and are involved in many community activities. With our staff being part of the community rather than just working here, this gives them a vested interest in Iron County.
Since taking office, I have been working to establish both short and long term operating plans. Long term plans include infrastructure improvement, vehicle fleet improvement, and staff training. At present, we have been working closely with the county commission and have been able to upgrade the fleet to 5 new Ford Explores and four used highway patrol cars. The fleet is all are the same color with easily recognizable markings. This has been accomplished with little cost to the county due to funds from the Law Enforcement Restitution Funds and a Federal grant from the USDA. Deputies have standardized uniforms, badges, and equipment. Vehicles are clearly identifiable.
Another short term plan was to improve public confidence, criminal investigations, report writing, and community involvement. At present, deputies attend all public events and we have sent two deputies to the School Resource Officers School. It is my intention to send them through the D.A.R.E program this Fall. We will be seeking additional federal grant money for this project which will allow the deputies to increase their time within the schools. Deputies meet the train north and southbound daily. Also, we will soon be able to monitor the train station from the Sheriff’s Department.
Another issue we are currently addressing is the process of planning and funding a new jail facility. New laws are forcing counties to take action in the housing of different types of prisoners.