Sheriffs are elected to reduce crime, but Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury fears he might make a move that increases the county’s crime rate.
Last week he informed eight deputies they might be laid off at the end of the month because of a $2 million deficit in the county’s budget.
“I can’t be out there preventing crime when we don’t have the deputies to do it,” said Salisbury.
Every elected official in Mason County has been advised by the county’s commissioners to cut 17.5 percent from their 2017 budget to make up for the shortfall.
The potential layoffs would reduce the number of Mason County deputies from 53 to 45, according to Salisbury.
“Nobody runs for office in order to lay people off,” said County Commission Chair Kevin Shutty.
Shutty said the commissioners find themselves in a “perfect storm.”
He blamed the deficit on a decrease in revenues, an increase in costs for new labor contracts, and a costlier-than-expected sewer project.
Shutty, who was elected in November, said past budget deficits were covered by using reserves, a strategy he said drained those reserves below recommended levels.
He said calling for across-the-board budget cuts in general fund agencies was not ideal.
“There’s no easy, fair, or equitable way to cut $2 million in the middle of July, in the middle of a budget,” said Shutty.
Commissioners will take public comment and vote on the proposed budget cuts at next week’s meeting.
That’s when Deputy Brian Spera expects to find out if he’ll still have a job after July.
“It’s difficult for myself and my family” said Spera, “But I know what kind of pressure it’s going to put on my fellow deputies.”