Concerns over Ottawa County Sheriff’s budget prompt state audit

Projected budget shortage prompts state audit
Concerns over Ottawa County Sheriff’s budget prompt state audit
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Budget concerns at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office prompt an audit through the state auditor’s office.

The county commission approved the audit today (1/22) — because the sheriff’s budget is projected to be tens of thousands of dollars short by the end of the fiscal year.

Something that could be bad for the whole county if it’s not corrected.

Last fiscal year, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office budget was short by more than 380-thousand dollars — prompting payment from county reserves to cover the difference.. and greater scrutiny going into the current year.

Kenny Wright, Ottawa County District Attorney:”As the first couple of months were progressing, it looked like he was on trajectory where he was gonna be over budget again.”

According to county documents, the sheriff’s budget for this year is two-point-seven million dollars.

One point three of that comes from a half cent sales tax.. and the rest is from cash accounts, from things like commissary at the jail.

As of October, the budget was projected to be short by more than a hundred thousand dollars.

Sheriff Jeremy Floyd says there’s a number of reasons for that.

Sheriff Jeremy Floyd:”One of the biggest income streams we had last year was our department of corrections inmates. I think last year we were averaging around sixty thousand just to throw a number out there, and we’re lucky to get around twenty thousand now. When we cut that into a third, we basically are loosing forty thousand dollars a month. That can add up over several months. And then of course the building is always in desperate needs of repairs, and that’s never cheap.”

But Ottawa County District Attorney Kenny Wright says another issue was high pay for employees.

Wright:”He was pretty consistently running a hundred and forty, a hundred and fifty thousand a month in payroll. To give you an idea, and of course now we’re much later in the year, we’re trying to get him closer to i think 85 thousand a month. To begin with, it could have been higher, but going the first four five months and you’re spending a hundred fifty thousand a month, to get that back in line, it’s got to go lower.”

Wright is now working with Floyd to get a handle on the budget.. because there’s not enough county reserves to pay the difference.

Wright:”If we’d just sat back, not been involved and put our head in the sand, I think we’d be rolling towards a county bankruptcy. cause he was on track to run out of money by February.. maybe March.”

Floyd says he laid off seven full time employees in October.. and has changed the way officers do patrols to lower fuel costs.

After all that.. the budget was still expected to be short by 66-thousand dollars.. so Floyd has enacted a 10-percent pay cut for the entire sheriff’s office to try and get back on track.

Floyd:”We’re trying to do the best we can with what resources we have, and hopefully it all pans out in the end.”

Wright doesn’t know when the investigative audit might start — but expects it to cost close to 15-thousand dollars.