Commission holds work session to discuss sheriff’s budget

Published 3:40 pm Monday, November 17, 2014

The Chilton County Commission voted Nov. 10 to send a notice to the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department advising budget limitations for the current fiscal year.

Commissioners originally scheduled a work session for Nov. 10 at 5:30 p.m. to meet with Sheriff Kevin Davis to discuss his budget in an effort to monitor spending in the department.

Although the work session was held, Davis was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, so commissioners were somewhat at a standstill regarding various questions they had regarding the sheriff’s current budget.

During the regularly scheduled commission meeting, commissioner Joseph Parnell made a motion to have the commission office send an “official” notice to the sheriff’s department advising the sheriff of his budget limitations and the commission’s intentions to not fund expenses beyond the monthly allotment of $282,142.

The discussion and vote Nov. 10 came after commissioners decided prior to the passage of the 2014-2015 budget that they would monitor the sheriff’s budget, and any other department within the county that was spending more than allotted.

Commissioners became concerned several weeks ago when they noticed expenditures in the sheriff’s budget were going over the monthly allotment.

They scheduled a work session for Nov. 10 in hopes of discussing why the budget was over the monthly allotment.

During the work session discussion, it was brought up that the increase could be due to payroll expenditures for the month of October. County administrator Connie Powell told commissioners there were three pay periods in the month, as opposed to most months with just two pay periods.

“We agreed that we were going to take his annual budget and divide it by 12,” Parnell said. “If the sheriff had things that came up out of the ordinary, he would need to come to us and ask. We are exceeding the monthly allotment, and there are probably valid reasons for that, but we need to have an open dialogue with the sheriff on this.”

Commissioners also voted to set up a monthly work session with the sheriff to discuss his budget for the first 15 minutes before or after the first monthly meeting each month, depending on when the sheriff could meet.

“We need to do our due diligence as a commission to review this budget,” Parnell said.

Commissioner Joseph Headley said he would like to see sheriff-elect John Shearon attend the work sessions as well, so Shearon could be informed about the status of his upcoming budget.

“It is our job as a commission to hold the sheriff accountable for the money spent out of his budget,” Parnell said. “There may not be anything wrong, but we need to make sure and keep everything under control so there is enough money in the budget to last the whole year.”

In a telephone interview, Sheriff Kevin Davis said he is open-minded to ideas the commission has regarding funding, but worries a monthly allotment might cause issues.

“No two months are ever the same,” Davis said. “There may be one month where vehicles break down and you have to fix them, or a homicide happens, or an event like an ice storm or a tornado. Those types of things require additional personnel. Things change each month so it is hard to have a monthly allotment.”

Davis said his department has cut services within the last two years including seven employees who worked for the sheriff’s department and five employees at the jail.

“We are cutting as much as we can,” Davis said. “My hope is the sheriff’s department and the commission are able to work together and come up with a plan.”