Osceola County Sheriff's Office Budget
03/23/2007 – Law Enforcement Gets Squeezed – Daily Globe editorial
The Osceola County Public Safety Commission set its 2007-2008 law enforcement budget Wednesday night, and there are plenty of unhappy folks as a result.
They have every right to be. The budget of $878,500 - &40,000 less that what was requested by Sheriff Doug Weber - leaves an already pinched law enforcement agency in a potentially dangerous fiscal situation.
During Wednesday's well-attended commission meeting, concerns about high-mileage squad cars, old equipment and low wages were expressed. Weber himself recalled a recent high-speed chase involving the departments highest-mileage car, which has tolled up more than 170,000 miles on the odometer. As a result, he added $1,000 was spent thus week alone on repairs to the vehicle.
By not fully funding Weber's budget request, the department will be forced to make do with what they-ve got for the upcoming year. And, even if more money is allotted to the sheriff's department during the next budget cycle, it seems probable that something needing replacement then will be delayed in order to purchase something needed now.
There concerns don't even take into account wage issues and slim staffing that Weber and others feel contribute to low moral among law enforcement employees. The funding shortfall, however, transcends more than the sheriff, his support staff and what's required to perform their job. The bottom line: This is an important public safety issue.
We're well aware their are other county entities that require funding. Money clearly is tight. But clearly something is amiss somewhere - perhaps the county's funding formula, or undervalued properties - and, as a result, living in Osceola County just got a lot less safe.
02/16/07 – Money Shortage Jeopardizes Safety – Daily Globe editorial
Times sure must be tough in Osceola County.
What else could explain Wednesday’s unanimous vote by the Osceola County Public Safety Commission to set preliminary budget expenditures for the county sheriff’s department at a level $40,000 less that what Sheriff Doug Weber believes is necessary to operate his department. In a county where the sheriff’s office is the sole law enforcement entity – communities like Sibley, Ocheyedan and Melvin don’t have their own municipal police departments – a decision not to fund the sheriff’s office with an amount Weber says he needs sends a bit of a distressing message.
Consider the vote of the Public Safety Commission was unanimous; it appears difficult to criticize its members as being spendthrifts. On the contrary, it appears that entity’s hands may be tied somewhat. There is, quite apparently, a limited amount of money to go around for all of the county departments and agencies, so law enforcement – as we hope is the case across the board – is taking its fair share of the hit. But when Weber insists he doesn’t see any other area in which to cut (“It’s hard to look at the budget every month when, pardon my expression, it’s smoke in mirrors”), the decision to not fund Weber’s budget request appears extra perplexing.
Should the preliminary budget be approved following a public hearing March7, Weber faced with either having to trim staffing or delaying purchase of what he says is a necessary replacement emergency vehicle (if the current one is kept, money could be squandered on required repairs). Those are tough choices and it’s not just Weber and his department who would suffer. It’s Osceola County as a whole, and its citizens.