Newly elected Sheriff Roger Soldan sat down with County Commissioners to provide them with an orientation to the Sheriff’s Office. Many pages of statistics were shared, but discussions intensified as the talk turned to budgets. County Administrator Rita Deister said it will be “vitally important” for the Commission and Sheriff’s Office develop a “realistic budget”, especially with a State enforced “tax lid”.
In November, the previous Commission asked the Sheriff’s Office to explain the amount of overtime earned in both the jail and patrol divisions. Soldan said that since the overtime had been accrued incrementally, there was little that could be done to curtail it at the end of 2016. Soldan said that in 2016, the Sheriff’s staff had 12,000+ hours of overtime. Some of this was needed to complete cases and accident reporting, after a deputy’s shift had ended. Others was for special patrols; the general fund was reimbursed for these costs. Soldan acknowledged though that the overtime for corrections officers was more significant.
Soldan said that ideally, four deputies patrol the county during 12 hour shifts. Training requirements and leave often mean that three deputies are on duty at any time, along with a captain. Soldan said the county has not increased the number of patrol officers in ten years.
Of the department’s 15 vehicles, Soldan said one vehicle remains parked and another does not start consistently. Nine of the current vehicles are 2008 or older models. Deister acknowledged that the County did not replace vehicles as planned during the three year recession. The 2016 budget requested that nine vehicles be replaced, but funding was granted for four replacements. Soldan said in many counties, a vehicle is assigned to a deputy; but in Saline County, two deputies share a vehicle. Soldan said his department had to pick up an $800/month phone bill to provide cell service to the vehicles. Seven or eight vehicles had hail damage, amounting to $10,000; Soldan asked how he was to budget for that kind of expense.
Soldan said that when the County’s patrol deputies write citations within city limits, the City’s Municipal Court receives part of any paid fines and the State receives the rest. When deputies write citations in the county, the State receives these payments. When deputies do VIN inspections, the State collects part of those fees.
Soldan said that in 2005, the front desk staff spent 10-15 minutes officially registering offenders once a year, for a total of 133 encounters. State laws now require the same offender to register four times a year and information must be keyed into three data banks. In 2016, this meant front desk staff had 1,372 encounters.
Soldan said that contract housing of inmates at other facilities, inmate medical and inmate meals were the three largest variable expenses in the Sheriff’s Office’s budget. He said the jail census continues to be high. He described problems with the physical facility that includes boiler challenges and water leaks.
Chairman Monte Shadwick insisted, and Soldan acknowledged, that the Commission has given the Sheriff’s Office increases in the two prior years. Deister said that while the Commission had asked department heads to set their budgets at previous years’ levels, the department heads could appeal and ask for additional monies for specific purposes. Last year, the Sheriff’s budget asked for $535,000 in appeals and was granted $200,000. Soldan said that in looking at trends, when the Sheriff asked for additional money and received less, it was likely the Sheriff’s Office would overspend its budget. Soldan said “we don’t want to spend money we don’t have.”
Shadwick voiced frustration with the number of people being held in jail, but acknowledged Soldan had little control over the numbers. Shadwick noted that Soldan also didn’t “have to go to the public and explain why taxes were going up” to cover increasing expenses.
- Authorized an amount Rural Fire District #1 could spend on a tanker chassis, if inspection of the chassis is satisfactory.
- Approved hiring a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the Health Department at grade 14, step 3. Approved hiring a Home Health Registered Nurse/Educator at grate 17, step 3.
- Received a refresher on “Robert’s Rules of Order” from County Counselor Mike Montoya.
- Learned sales taxes, as of January 30, 2017 amounted to $376,330; this is 1.79% less than this same time last year.
- Decided to pay membership dues for the Kansas Association of Counties; the National Association of County Organizations (NACo), and the League of Municipalities. As one of the NACo benefits, citizens can pick up a prescription discount card; NACo’s records suggested 10-17 citizens utilized this benefit, and saved $133,362 last year.
- Considered wording for a letter to be sent to rural fire districts regarding processes to use with construction projects.
There was no public forum. There were three executive sessions
CORRECTION to the January 24th Saline County Commission meeting summary: During the discussion on county roads, County Engineer Neil Cable said that the “worst of the worst” bridges and box culverts have been addressed. His comment was not in regard to the condition of the county’s roads. Cable believes the opinions and comments regarding