Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Butler Co. sheriff pares budget

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard is asking for a 4.4 percent increase in his department's budget next year — about half the increase he had the previous year.

        “We cut it to the bone,” Col. Rick Jones, the sheriff's chief deputy, told county commissioners Monday during a budget meeting.

        The budget is far below the 10.8 percent increase the sheriff's office received for this year's budget and is close to the 3 percent to 4 percent limit the commissioners have placed on departmental budget increases for 2001.

        The commissioners said it's especially important to hold down costs during the next two years because of the cost of building and operating the planned county jail.

        Operating the new jail is estimated to cost about $6 million a year when it opens in two to three years. The cost of operating the existing jail is about $3.5 million.

        Although county officials were pleased with the sheriff's budget proposal, they haggled with Col. Jones over the allocation for buying new vehicles, an expense outside the proposed budget.

        Col. Jones requested $640,000 to buy 18 cruisers and two jail vans.

        County Administrator Derek Conklin asked him if he could survive with $500,000 for vehicle purchases.

        “No,” Col. Jones said. “I have to have that many cars. Cars are a perishable item.”

        He offered to reduce his request to $600,000. When Mr. Conklin countered with $540,000, Col. Jones said he could go no lower than $580,000.

        Col. Jones pressed the commissioners to make a decision Monday so he could begin to order new vehicles.

        “We have to look at all the department budgets,” Commissioner Chuck Furmon said.

        The commissioners promised to notify Col. Jones of their decision within two weeks.


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