I appreciate, and respect, the responsibilities each Commissioner has undertaken. You knew the job would be a challenge but also a test of your creativity, drive, and tenacity. The public expects individuals filling such positions to be of sound judgment, well educated and with extensive background in administration and budgeting.
The Commissioners have full authority over the County budget. Along with that authority is an expectation the Commissioners strive to ensure a healthy and vibrant community by seeking new industry, jobs, and subsequent revenue. Other elected officials, and department heads, are not afforded this option; but rather act as stewards of earmarked money.
It is in that spirit I provide you with periodic “State of the Office” reports. These “reports provide timely information consistent with your responsibilities for the level of law enforcement service. The decisions you make, based on these reports, have a direct and proportional impact upon this community.
On July 22, during the comments from citizens’ portion of the weekly business session, Commissioner Cassanelli, in response to Jeff Wolf’s comments, said that she felt the citizens wanted a top-notch Sheriff’s office but they could not afford it. I take issue; we believe we are providing the best we can, given the funding we receive. To insinuate we are substandard for any reason other than funding, would be incorrect.
Commissioner Cassanelli went on to say, “The Sheriff can ask for money all he wants but offers no solution.” If all Commissioner Cassanelli heard was “putting out a levy in 2011” – I say to you…you only heard only what you wanted, you did not listen to what was said!
To suggest I have offered no solutions is grossly misleading. The following is a partial list of the solutions I have put forth:
• Purchased used instead of new vehicles, and acquired both civilian and military surplus at no cost to the citizens.
• Proposed a more cost efficient funding mechanism for county law enforcement – attached to a long-term plan focused on additional savings.
• Established our own dispatch center saving $130,000. per year.
• Changed to a less expensive uniform,
• Implemented a cold breakfast at the Jail saving $1 K per week,
• Consolidated services into a smaller working area in the Jail, mitigating workload.
• Withdrew from the County bldg in CJ for better functionality and cost savings to the S.O.
• Obtained an additional $2.1 M in grants, and have pursued private monies to support law enforcement functions.
• Deferred filling two vacant administrative Lieutenant positions until the economy returns.
• I have personally turned down a raise and personally donated the last COLA back to the community. Sheriff’s Office employees have not asked for a raise in the last four years.
• Implemented a volunteer security watch over foreclosed properties, at no cost to the public.
• Expanded the volunteer program to augment certain demands and requirements placed upon FTEs in the jail, in the Sub-stations, and on the road. Keep in mind these volunteers cannot enforce laws! To think we can replace Deputies with volunteers would be a very costly mistake.
• Recruiting additional Reserve Deputies.
• Expanded the capabilities of the Sheriff’s Posse.
• Continue to research other opportunities, including:
--A paperless system to cut costs.
--Supporting a beta test site for the development of an alarm system that would benefit children in our schools – that would also generate permanent jobs within this community.
--Increasing the fees at the jail. *revisiting the “pay to stay” concept.
Commissioner Cassanelli, in all fairness, I realize the demands and pressure placed upon your time. The only task I have asked of you, since your taking office, was to help in the development of a Justice of the Peace project. A project you volunteered to participate in but have yet to follow through with. This could be a more meaningful approach to generating County revenue worth pursuing.
It is disappointing to hear you believe it is not your responsibility to provide a plan, or seek out new business, new jobs, or new revenue streams. Where is the plan you promoted during your campaign – the Crestwood, Illinois model?
Commissioner Cassanelli, up to this point you have only pointed fingers and blamed others for shortcomings, categorically voted no to most suggestions, and continue to impede growth or jobs in this County. And now, you infer none of this is your responsibility?
You suggested using Community Service Officers (like California) at half the cost of a Deputy – we do, they are called Volunteers and Reserves, and here they work free! You suggest we decrease our current service in favor of stretching out one additional year of service. We just lost a Lieutenant and potentially another Deputy to the City of Grants Pass – dare you ask why? To employ your idea, we would see a reduction of personnel at an accelerated pace over the next few years with absolutely no hope of replacements. Consequently, the jail would close. Patrol and other services would be would be decimated.
You were voted into your post with an expectation of leading us through these tough times; not to retreat, disclaiming responsibility with statements like “What can the Commissioners do?” I will hold you to your responsibilities of your office, and the citizens of this community; find a solution.
I agree that we all need to be a part of the solution. I strongly believe the Sheriff Office has hitched our horses to that team.