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Wednesday October 22nd 2014

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Heated debates continue at jail transfer workshop

By Jesse Farthing

Tuesday’s Jail Transfer Workshop meeting managed to resolve a few key issues before once again devolving into heated debate surrounding the sheriff’s internal service fund.

The county was requesting 40 percent of the sheriff’s second dollar fund, which they get from writing tickets, as part of the jail transition, but ECSO did not want to give up that fund. When it came time to negotiate the county’s use of the sheriff’s training facility, Chief Deputy Eric Haines offered to allow full usage by detention deputies if they were allowed to keep their second dollar fund to pay for all training costs.

“You want 40 percent of the tickets we write,” Haines said. “Is the county going to start paying for our overtime to go testify to get these tickets?”

The ECSO has saved $300,000 in their second dollar fund, solely generated by law enforcement, which is 90 percent utilized by law enforcement according to Haines.

County budget director Amy Lovoy said that Haines was arguing about money they’ve never used.

“Just because we’ve saved money for future expenses doesn’t mean we’re not spending it or don’t need it,” Haines responded. “The county is of this opinion that nothing should be saved for the future.”

“It just seems that every fund that the sheriff has needs to be decimated and turned over to the county,” he continued.

Ultimately the sheriff agreed on a one-time contribution of $50,000 from the second dollar reserves and $5,000 annually to the jail.

Vehicle replacement for the jail was an extended discussion that could have resolved much more quickly if the negotiators had been listening to one another throughout.

The sheriff budgets $2.9 million of local option sales tax money for vehicle replacement, and Gordon Pike requested ten percent of that for jail vehicles. Haines offered $100,000, stating that the jail should not need to replace many vehicles and certainly would not need ten percent.

Pike’s offer to meet in the middle at $200,000 seemed to go unheard.

The negotiation ended with the sheriff agreeing to pay out $1 million over the next five years ($200,000 per year) after lengthy arguments.

The sheriff’s ISF again drew extended debate and criticism before Interim County Administrator George Touart called for a daylong recess to allow for Lovoy to write up a Memorandum of Understanding with the hope of coming to some agreement between ECSO and the county.

The meeting will resume Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.