homepage logo

Sheriff, county manager, announce cuts as revenues decline

By Staff | Jan 30, 2009

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office notified its employees of a current fiscal year budget cut via an email Thursday.
Additionally, Lee County’s declining revenues have caused officials to lay off a number of county employees and make other budget adjustments.
Sheriff Mike Scott announced Friday that his department will cut approximately $5.6 million from its budget.
“In the interest of brevity suffice to say that the funding source for our agency (Lee County’s General Revenue) is experiencing a tremendous strain,” Scott wrote to agency employees. “I realize that everyone in the public and private sector is being forced to make adjustments, and we need to be proactive in these trying times.”
The sheriff’s office will cut approximately $3.78 million from inmate medical coverage and food as the daily inmate population at the Lee County Jail declines, as well as cut 30 corrections officers positions to save approximately $1.9 million.
Also, despite the department’s efforts to salvage the D.A.R.E. drug education program, Scott announced the program will be closed at a cut of $220,000 for five positions.
“No doubt the most regrettable change is the D.A.R.E. program,” Scott said. “Especially in light of how hard we worked to keep it at the outset of the budget year. We remain committed to work closely with school officials to educate our youth on the dangers and consequences of illegal drug use, while encouraging student self-esteem.”
Additionally, “The reallocation of certified and civilian personnel associated will provide an alternative to hiring from outside the agency to fill Corrections, Law Enforcement, Court Operations and Civilian support position,” the sheriff’s office announced Friday.
The sheriff’s office is looking at other ways to restructure resources, such as expanding an Alternate Response Officer service to free up patrol officers.
Other cuts include $185,463 in accreditation and inspections, and $282,000 in out-of-town training and travel.
Meanwhile, Lee County Manager Don Stilwell sent an email Friday to county employees announcing a number of employee layoffs as a result of declining revenues.
“As both the new calendar year and the 2009 fiscal year unfold, it is clear that the Lee County Government will continue to see declining revenues from permitting and fees as well as from tax revenue,” Stilwell wrote. “Therefore, for the third time in little more than 12 months, we have made the difficult decision to lay off employees in the Community Development Department.”
Stilwell said 19 employees from the department were let go Friday, totalling 129 cut positions total, 68 of which were through layoffs.
“The wages of those laid off today were funded through construction-related service fees, and without that fee income, we cannot continue to support these positions,” Stilwell wrote.

Additionally, the county has taken or is taking other actions in response to dropping revenues, including:
* 109 vacant positions being held open.
* 197 deleted county positions in the 2008-09 fiscal budget, through more than 64 vacancies, 83 early retirements and 50 layoffs.
* No salary adjustments for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
* Reduced post-retirement benefits for new employees.
* 5.6 percent or $67 million reduction in the 2008-09 operating and capital budget, from $1.2 billion to $1.1 billion.
* A reduced tax rate of 29.6 percent over the past five years, from 7.5878 to 5.3441.