County Budget Hearings Could Mean Cuts To Sheriff's Department
by: Pat Hernandez, January 26, 2012 5:01:00 pm
It's the first budget hearing being headed by Bill Jackson, who replaced longtime Harris County Budget Director Dick Raycraft, who retired last year. He told department heads they may need to operate on even smaller budgets than last year.
Jackson suggested to Sheriff Adrian Garcia his budget be around $392 million, $6 million less than the department's budget last year. Garcia told him that would be difficult at best.
"I'm not asking for any more, and I'm certainly not asking for any less. I'm asking for the same operational budget that I've used at the end of this fiscal year. This "hold-the-line" budget will allow the Sheriff's Office to focus on overtime reduction, replace the fine public servants that are retiring, while holding-the-line against the decay on public safety for the citizens of Harris County."
After his presentation to Director Jackson and county auditors, Garcia told members of the media that he would do anything to
prevent a reduction in public safety.
"Our deputies are working extremely hard. We've kept a lid on crime. We have kept response time to emergency calls, to life threatening calls within satisfactory levels. But our deputies are tired, they're burning out. And this plan is intended to give them some relief and give the community some value added."
Tome Mesa is the Sheriff's Department's Chief Financial Officer.
"We're a third of the county's budget, so when they talks about, when the court talks about 'Well, other departments are also feeling the effects of budget cuts, or freezing or benefit increases', it affects us in a bigger way because (of) the size of the department."
Garcia didn't want to speculate on whether his presentation was convincing enough to the holders of the county purse
"We have been transparent in how we are going to accomplish our budget and so, now it's on them. I spoke on behalf of the community that wants services, wants protection. I think they're gonna have to go back and analyze everything that's been presented, and go from there."
The decision on the final numbers will be made sometime next month.