Sheriff: Layoffs expected after county slashes CCSO budget

In a tense 4-3 vote Wednesday morning, the Clark County Fiscal Court voted to strip approximately $243,000 from the sheriff’s 2020 budget and added other expenses to free county money for other things.

The change means the sheriff will likely have to lay off several employees and end 24-7 patrols in Clark County, according to Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr.

The amendment offered by Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos would have the sheriff’s office pay for its own phone expenses, postage, health insurance, FICA and one detective’s salary. Perdue said those items had been covered by the county for 25 years.

Perdue presented a budget of approximately $2.1 million for calendar year 2020 Wednesday morning.

Konstantopoulos’ amendment brought the projected revenue down to $1.855 million, the same amount as the budgeted expenditures. Perdue said extra funds provided a buffer in case expenses exceeded the budget.

“To get it down to $1.855 million, I don’t know where the cuts are,” Perdue said. “We’re going to be a part-time sheriff office. We’ll be lucky to have 10 hours a day coverage.”

Perdue said he would likely have to lay off four to five of his 13 employees.

“It will have to be in July. That’s when the cuts kick in,” he said.

Magistrates Greg Elkins, Joe Graham, Konstantopoulos and Chris Davis  all voted in favor with magistrates Travis Thompson, Robert Blanton and Judge-Executive Chris Pace voting no.

Konstantopoulos said his data indicates revenue for the sheriff’s office has increased, on average, about $56,000 each of the last five years. As revenue increases, the county’s support should be reduced as well, he said. Funds have already been allocated for the sheriff’s office through June 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year.

“I think the budget can be sustainable without impacting staff or services,” Konstantopoulos said.

Perdue said he was asked previously by Pace to make some cuts, which he did by eliminating one new cruiser and freezing other expenses other than a 3 percent raise for his employees.

“I thought that would be enough,” Perdue said.

While Konstantopoulos said the cuts won’t take effect until the new county budget takes effect in July 2020, Perdue said he has to bring expenses down now in order to receive the state advancement funds to keep the office operating until the 2020 tax bills come in.

Elkins said he wanted a good sheriff’s office, but other departments needed funding for equipment, including the county fire department which is trying to buy a new pumper and a tanker.

“We’re struggling to find money to do that with,” Elkins said. “Everybody knows the jail will be over budget significantly this year. … We’re going to have to make some hard choices over the next fiscal year.”

Elkins estimated the jail will be about $1.4 million over budget and the county has already transferred the budgeted funds for the fiscal year to the jail.

“We have to make sure we’re able to survive,“ Elkins said.

The fiscal court previously asked the county clerk’s office to assume similar expenses from the county. Perdue said the difference is the county clerk accepts multiple payments every day throughout the year. Many times in the summer, the sheriff will have a daily deposit of $5 for a vehicle inspection, he said.

Clark County Clerk Michelle Turner said it took about three months before her office would make the monthly payments for those additional expenses at her office.