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Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Sheriff keeps pay increases, as operations money dwindles

July 11, 2001

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The Douglas County Sheriff's Office can pay higher salaries next year, but will have less money for operations.

Douglas County commissioners Tuesday cut $106,000 from Sheriff Rick Trapp's overall budget of $6.2 million. Just a week ago, commissioners approved $290,000 to support a more competitive pay plan for his deputies.

"We have to work with (the cut) and we will," Trapp said. "I thought the hearings were fair. It's just been a really tough budget year."

The department's decrease was a drop in the bucket in the county's proposed budget of $39.7 million, which commissioners reduced by $676,397 in two days of budget review.

All told, commissioners shaved less than a mill's worth of spending from next year's proposed budget.

If, as seems likely, commissioners finalize the budget plan as it now stands, the county levy will be 28.096 mills. That is a 15 percent increase over this year's 24.323 mills. A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

Commissioners said they expect to make few, if any, other cuts.

One item still up for discussion is how much to give county employees as a cost-of-living increase. Commissioners are considering the recommended 3 percent increase. But they also might make the raise as small as 2.25 percent, which would cut $86,500 from the budget.

Commissioner Charles Jones said he also wanted to revisit the district court's judge pro tem position and its associated costs.

"We have to decide, do we cut the mill levy or do we cut services," Jones said. "I don't think anybody is happy with the number we've come to, and what's frustrating is the mill levy goes up but the services aren't going to get better."

Trapp said the public wouldn't be affected by the smaller increase planned for his department.

"We will figure out how to make do and still give the county the service they deserve from the sheriff's office," he said.

Commissioner Jere McElhaney said he plans to spend time reviewing the budget to see whether more cuts can be made.

"I think we've reached some kind of compromise, but we're not done yet," he said.

Budget discussions will continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the county courthouse, 1100 Mass.

Besides Trapp's department, commissioners Tuesday cut $97,044 from proposed increases for Public Works, $49,000 from Youth Services, $14,473 from the Treasurer's office and $4,500 from zoning and codes.

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